IBM's Supercomputer Beats Humans at Jeopardy

IBM's 'Watson' supercomputer has been preparing for its stint on Jeopardy for a long time. In April of 2009, the company revealed its plans to build a question answering (QA) computing system – codenamed Watson – that could understand complex questions and answer with enough precision and speed to compete on the TV show Jeopardy!. IBM said that after two years of development, they planned to put Watson to the test by pitting it against human contestants on the hit show. Well, it’s been two years.

Last week, Watson headed to upstate New York to go head-to-head with Jeopardy legends Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. Though filming for next month’s episode doesn’t actually start until today, Thursday saw Watson and the IBM crowd give us a sneak peek of what we can expect from the QA computing system’s time on Jeopardy!.

Engadget reports that Watson didn’t answer a single question incorrectly and by the end of the game was ahead with $4,400 (Ken had $3,400, and Brad had $1,200). This is a stark contrast to how Watson was portrayed in a video clip shot last year. Posted to IBM’s YouTube, the clip views like a blooper reel and shows Watson getting a ton of questions wrong.

You'll have to wait until next month to see Watson in action for real, but until then, check out the AP’s report, which shows Watson's practice from round yesterday.

Also embedded is the clip IBM released last year, which portrays a much less intimidating Watson.

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