IBM Watson's Jeopardy play

IBM Watson's Jeopardy play

Summary: Later today IBM's Watson takes on the greatest Jeopardy players of all time. Will it win? We will have to wait and see. In the meantime, IBM'er Vijay Vijayshankar shares his thoughts on what Watson represents.


Later today, IBM's Watson will start playing Jeopardy on national TV in a three match contest running over three days. Doesn't IBM have anything better to do with its marketing and R&D dollars? Of course it does but this display of man v machine promises to be a fascinating experiment that assesses how far the 5 year old project has progressed.

Late last week, I had a conversation with Vijay Vijayasankar, an IBM associate partner and fellow SAP Mentor. He has been following this topic for some time and believes it represents one of the most exciting things he has seen in computing for many years. He is not alone. In other conversations with IBM'ers, I get a genuine sense of anticipation and a belief that the company is developing something that is truly groundbreaking. If correct then perhaps for the first time, we will see compute power that is capable of extricating itself from the dumb rules based methods of decision taking and process creation that do little better than automate 80% of what works.

In the above video, Vijay explains what Watson can do and shares his opinions about how this might prove useful in the real world of natural language search and, longer term, business intelligence. I see a borader vision, one where machines are capable of understanding where processes break down and become self healing. That may be many years away but the prospect is tantalising.

Although some may see this as a curiosity and arcane science project the fact remains that finding answers to problems is difficult. IBM hopes that Watson's natural language processing capability will start to provide us with a better means of problem resolution. Think of it like HAL from 2001 but with good intent. Or, as Vijay says:

Winning is not the big deal here - and while I hope Watson wins hands down on 14th - I am just excited that such an amazing concept could be brought to life in just about 3 years or so. AI has been a topic out of the realms of the enterprise for the most part, and now we realize how close we are to reaping benefits from this.

While I am not a game show fan, Jeopardy promises to be intriguing. Will it be the darling of the Valentine's Day show? Share your thoughts in talkback.

Topic: IBM

Dennis Howlett

About Dennis Howlett

Dennis Howlett is a 40 year veteran in enterprise IT, working with companies large and small across many industries. He endeavors to inform buyers in a no-nonsense manner and spares no vendor that comes under his microscope.

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  • RE: IBM Watson's Jeopardy play

    I noticed that IBM stock price has fallen today. The Jeopardy show that is showing tonight was recorded last week. I wonder if the sellers had inside information?
  • Stock price Vs. Natural Langauge

    Stock price had little to do with Watson - the machine did admirably.

    Natural language has been around for decades and there is some really cool stuff it's used for.

    Some websites have it in their product search to make it better. Imagine a website being as smart as Watson?

    an example is & there are tons more
    Wandering moth
    • Imagine a search engine being as smart as Watson

      @Wandering moth

      ... Back to reality [*wakes up*]
  • What a Coincidence?!!!

    IBM's Watson resembles the machine in the short story "The IWM 1000". Read it, creepy
  • $35,000

    Watson cleaned the humans' clocks last night. Then, in 'final jeopardy' it made the boneheaded play of answering Toronto as a "U S city".
    Robert Hahn
    • RE: IBM Watson's Jeopardy play

      @Robert Hahn but Watson was smart enough to wager a small sum, which was good strategy for a poor confidence answer :)
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  • RE: IBM Watson's Jeopardy play

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