April 27, 2009

Computer challenges humans on ‘Jeopardy!’

IBM has unveiled an advanced computing system that will compete with humans on a special edition of the television program Jeopardy!

Codenamed Watson, the system is designed to be able to understand complex questions and answer with enough precision and speed to compete on the TV show. Officials from Jeopardy! said they will produce a human versus machine episode of the program

Produced by Sony Pictures Television and distributed by CBS Television, Jeopardy! poses a grand challenge for a computing system due to the variety of subject matter, the speed at which contestants must provide accurate responses and because the clues given to contestants involve analyzing subtle meaning, irony, riddles and other complexities at which humans excel and computers traditionally do not, IBM said.

The scientists said Watson will incorporate massively parallel analytical capabilities and, as human competitors, Watson will not be connected to the Internet or have any other outside assistance.

Watson is a compelling example of how the planet -- companies, industries, cities -- is becoming smarter, said Samuel Palmisano, IBM chairman, president and chief executive officer.

IBM said the research underlying Watson is expected to elevate computer intelligence and human-to-computer communication to unprecedented levels.