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article imageWatson machine ties contestant on 'historic' round of 'Jeopardy'

By Andrew Moran     Feb 14, 2011 in Technology
New York - Host Alex Trebek stated at the top of "Jeopardy" that it would be an historic day one of the hit quiz show. The latest competition pits Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter and Watson, an IBM computer.
Artificial intelligences have already surpassed humans in intellect, such as mathematics, physics, science, memory and even music (click here). But as theoretical physicist and author of “Physics of the Impossible,” Michio Kaku states, “It’s a matter of syntax vs. semantics.”
The history of artificial intelligences, or as some brain builders, such as Hugo de Garis, call them, Artilects, is vast and will only continue to grow as long as scientists continue to make astounding achievements – or as long as they are allowed to.
On Monday, another case of man vs. Machine took place, but it wasn’t during a technology convention or in a motion picture, but on an episode of the long-running American television quiz show “Jeopardy,” according to Reuters.
Former “Jeopardy” champions Ken Jennings, who has the longest winning streak, and Brad Rutter, the show’s all-time money-winner, took on an IBM computer that is powered by 10 racks of computer servers running on Linux operating system and a 15-trillion byte memory called Watson, named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson.
On day one, Rutter and Watson ended the first round with $5,000 each and Jennings was last with $2,000. “You are about to witness what may prove to be an historic competition,” Trebek told viewers at the beginning of the show.
The Associated Press reports that topics consisted of the Beatles, Alternate Meanings, Olympic Oddities and others. Rutter started things off with Alternate Meanings for $200: “4-letter word for a vantage point or a belief.” Rutter responded: “What is a view?”
The next one was Alternate Meanings for $400: “4-letter word for the iron fitting on the hoof of a horse or a card-dealing box in a casino.” Watson answered: “What is a shoe?”
There were some minor glitches, though. One question asked for the decade Oreo cookies were introduced and Watson said: “What is 1920s?” when Jennings first answered “1920s.” Jennings and Watson were both mistaken and Rutter interjected with “What are the 1910s?”
Furthermore, Entertainment Weekly notes that Watson was all over the board instead of choosing one category and “running” that category. Watson even picked a Daily Double at one point and answered it correctly with “Who is Hyde?”
Monday’s events is slightly similar to what occurred in 1997 when Russian chess word champion Garry Kasparov faced off against Deep Blue, a chess-playing computer developed by IBM.
Will man become more machine? Will machine become more man? Artificial Intelligence has become one of the more intriguing advancements in technology. Robots have been the subject of motion pictures, literature, philosophical and theoretical discussions and the path of our advancement to a Type I, II and III civilization.
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