Last night, IBM's Watson computer won the final round of the three-day Man V. Machine Jeopardy! competition. At the beginning of the show, the humans were fierce, proving that they could buzz in faster than Watson, even though the machine knew the answer. But by the time Final Jeopardy came around, Watson was ahead and was able to decipher the clue: "William Wilkinson's ‘an account of the principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia' inspired this authors's most famous novel" and provide the question, "Who is Bram Stoker?"
Both human competitors, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, got it correct as well. But I give Jennings additional kudos for his humorous parenthetical, "I for one welcome our new computer overloads." Nice job. The final scores were:
Rutter: $21,600 Jennings: $24,000 Watson: $77,147 But although Watson won the competition, humans still prevailed. Afterall, Watson was designed by a team of dedicated researchers who spent years building out its 90 servers and customizing hundreds of algorithms that produce precise answers. A tremendous amount of science has gone into developing this machine. In this video from IBM, you can hear more about it, but essentially Watson is comprised of natural language processing, machine learning, knowledge representation and reasoning and analytics. When it's given a task, like coming up with a question to Jeopardy! clue, many computer processors work together in parallel to come up with the solution.