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IBM’s Watson Receives Webby For ‘Person Of The Year’

June 3, 2011

“Watson,” the IBM computer that was made famous for beating two human competitors on the long-running popular game show “Jeopardy,” has been named “Ëœperson’ of the year by the Webby Awards.

The Webbys, which honor Internet achievement, announced the special honors on Thursday. Watson will be among several honorees at the 15th annual Webby Awards ceremony held on June 13 at the Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC, hosted by Lisa Kudrow. The show will stream live on numerous outlets, including Facebook and Funny or Die.

Rock group LCD Soundsystem was named artist of the year. LCD Soundsystem recently disbanded and gave their final concert at Madison Square Garden in April via a live webcast.

Dan Savage, founder of the “It Gets Better Project,” will be honored for special achievement. Savage’s online video campaign has urged young people to stand up to bullying against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender teens.

Red Burns, the founder of New York Interactive Telecommunications Program, will also be presented with a Webby Special Achievement Award for her lifelong commitment to fostering many of the young minds who paved the way for today’s thriving media world.

Directors Adam McKay and Chris Henchy, co-founders of comedy website Funny or Die, will be honored for film and video person of the year.

Lifetime achievement award will go to Martin Cooper, a former Motorola executive who is considered father of the mobile phone.

And Groupon deal-of-the-day website will be honored with the Webby Breakout of the Year Award.

The ceremony this year will also feature the first ever (RED) Webby Award, which will be presented to Ushahidi — an open source software platform for interactive mapping — for its outstanding use of innovative technology for social good. Ushahidi came into being out of the 2008 election violence in Kenya.

“Each year the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences acknowledges a few Webby Award winners that stand out amongst the others, honoring them with special recognition for adding to the growth of web culture,” said David-Michel Davies, Executive Director of the Webby Awards.

The Webby Person of the Year Award will go to Watson, the computer that won $1 million on a three day challenge against all-time Jeopardy champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. Watson calculated hundreds of algorithms simultaneously to cut through human language complexities such as puns and play on words in order to correctly guess the questions to answers given by Jeopardy host Alex Trebek.

Watson is powered by 90 32-core IBM Power 750 Express servers with a total of 16 terabytes of memory.

Image Caption: Watson, powered by IBM POWER7, is a work-load optimized system that can answer questions posed in natural language over a nearly unlimited range of knowledge. Credit: IBM

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