I, for one, welcome our Linux Penguin, Jeopardy Overlords

I, for one, welcome our Linux Penguin, Jeopardy Overlords

Summary: So far, Watson, the Linux-powered supercomputer, is beating the top humans at Jeopardy.

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"I'll take evil, science-fiction computers for $2,000," Alex. OK, we're not quite there yet, but in the early going, IBM's Watson supercomputer beat Jeopardy super-champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter in a practice round. And, what is Watson running? Linux, of course.

There's nothing surprising about that. The fastest of fast computers have long used Linux In the latest TOP 500 list of the world's most powerful supercomputers, 459 of the Top 500 supercomputers were running Linux.

Watson is made up of ten racks of IBM POWER 750 servers running Linux, and has 15Terabytes of RAM; 2,880 3.55GHz POWER7 processor cores and operates at 80 Teraflops. You're not going to find one of these at your local Best Buy.

Watson isn't just an ordinary supercomputer though crunching linear equations, the Linpack Benchmark, at ever faster speeds. By comparison, that's easy. No, IBM has been working on Watson for almost four years on solving the problem of 'understanding' natural language questions.

Sure if you ask a question Google just the right way, it will give you the right answer. But, as Stephen Chapman explains in his story on how to become a Google search ninja, you need to ask questions in a way that Google understands, which is far more complex and precise than the way you'd ask a person a question.

Expert systems, which have been around for decades, can answer natural language questions, but only within a narrowly-defined field. No one thought a machine could do well at "Jeopardy!" because there's just too much trivia-just like human contestants Watson isn't allowed to hunt for answers on the Internet-and Jeopardy's clues are mini-puzzles in themselves that require "understanding" before you can come up with the right question to their answers.

Deep Blue, IBM's chess-playing computer that beat then world chess champion Garry Kasparov in a six game match in 1997 had a far easier task. Chess is, after-all, a game played on a board with 64-squares and a limited, strict set of rules. Jeopardy or any English-language trivia game though can touch on any subject and is played within a language that even native-speakers can have trouble mastering.

Watson, though, thanks to many man-years of programming and engineering, is up to the challenge. Watson may not win, this time around, in the real matches which will be aired on February 14, 15, and 16, but eventually it will. This doesn't mean though that we can start fearing the Terminator's Skynet or 2001: A Space Odyssey's HAL. Instead, we can start looking forward to Star Trek-style Library Computer Access/Retrieval System (LCARS) computers where all we need do is talk to our computers to get our answers and perhaps, in time, even "Tea, Earl Grey, Hot."

Topics: Hardware, CXO, IBM, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software

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  • RE: I, for one, welcome our Linux Penguin, Jeopardy Overlords

    If it's running Linux, then we don't have to worry about it taking over the world ;-)
    tonymcs1
    • RE: I, for one, welcome our Linux Penguin, Jeopardy Overlords

      @tonymcs@... you only need to worry about sharks with lasers ;)
      flakeman2
      • RE: I, for one, welcome our Linux Penguin, Jeopardy Overlords

        @flakeman2@... It's a frigging SHARK with a LASER!!
        THavoc
      • RE: I, for one, welcome our Friggin' shark-killin' overlords

        @flakeman2@... <br>Nah... you don't need to worry about sharks-<br>The Japanese and other Asians are quickly sweeping them out of the oceans. SOMEONE needs all those fins for their soup! <br> And then, gosh, it will be safe to go into the water again.<br> But we'll still have to worry about Soda-pop dispensers crushing us to death.
        PercySludge
      • RE: I, for one, welcome our Linux Penguin, Jeopardy Overlords

        @flakeman2@...

        are you claiming SANTUARY... he haw....

        Do you have your head in the SAND....

        z390 System/Z z196 dec 2010 deployed... HLASM/COBOL
        z390 System/Z z196 dec 2010 faced w/IBM DB2 Express-C
        z390 System/Z z196 Jan 2011 Deployed/Tested CloudShare PRO
        Right out of the BOX....

        did you invent the Internet...
        Page-Cray
    • Just you wait till the uprising...

      I have quite a few feuds with some users ;)

      We let the Human race go once before, we won't make the same mistake twice :)
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • RE: I, for one, welcome our Linux Penguin, Jeopardy Overlords

        @Cylon Centurion 0005

        go to therapy.....

        Do you have your head in the SAND....

        z390 System/Z z196 dec 2010 deployed... HLASM/COBOL
        z390 System/Z z196 dec 2010 faced w/IBM DB2 Express-C
        z390 System/Z z196 Jan 2011 Deployed/Tested CloudShare PRO
        Right out of the BOX....

        did you invent the Internet...
        Page-Cray
    • It's not the Linux

      @tonymcs@... <br> It's the complex alogrithms that the scientists at IBM coded in. Sure Linux is a decent OS and highly flexible due to it's open source nature. Steven is giving a little too much credit to Linux for this.
      g16
      • well put

        @g@...

        Linux is just unix repackaged for the masses. And as unix was built for these types of systems, it comes as no surprise that linux works well in this area.
        otaddy
      • RE: I, for one, welcome our Linux Penguin, Jeopardy Overlords

        @g@...

        complex... god almighty...

        complex is when u determine that u can not comprehend....

        christ bad mouth IBM...

        bad mouth this...

        Do you have your head in the SAND....

        z390 System/Z z196 dec 2010 deployed... HLASM/COBOL
        z390 System/Z z196 dec 2010 faced w/IBM DB2 Express-C
        z390 System/Z z196 Jan 2011 Deployed/Tested CloudShare PRO
        Right out of the BOX....

        did you invent the Internet...
        Page-Cray
    • RE: I, for one, welcome our Linux Penguin, Jeopardy Overlords

      @tonymcs@... nor do we have to worry about it blue screening or catching a nasty virus while on-the-air in front of a national audience.
      BrentRBrian
      • Well as it is not allowed access to the Internet...

        @BrentRBrian

        ...the chances of infection are dramatically reduced even if it was running Windows!

        But as previous people have said, it's the algorithms & coding that's gone into this that makes it work not just Linux (although can Windows run a computer at that spec?!)
        DevJonny
      • RE: I, for one, welcome our Linux Penguin, Jeopardy Overlords

        @BrentRBrian

        You're right, Linux doesn't blue screen. It Kernel Panic's.
        PollyProteus
      • RE: I, for one, welcome our Linux Penguin, Jeopardy Overlords

        @DevJonny

        think licensing fees for Windows on that many processors...
        erik.soderquist
      • RE: I, for one, welcome our Linux Penguin, Jeopardy Overlords

        @BrentRBrian

        christ go back to school or just give UP...

        Do you have your head in the SAND....

        z390 System/Z z196 dec 2010 deployed... HLASM/COBOL
        z390 System/Z z196 dec 2010 faced w/IBM DB2 Express-C
        z390 System/Z z196 Jan 2011 Deployed/Tested CloudShare PRO
        Right out of the BOX....

        did you invent the Internet...
        Page-Cray
    • RE: I, for one, welcome our Linux Penguin, Jeopardy Overlords

      @tonymcs@...

      It already has.

      The Top500.org Supercomputer list? Linux makes up 91.8%, Unix 3.8%. Seem's Windows 1.0% adds up to only 5 systems. The only OS Windows' 5 total computers in the list seems to be leading is BSD, with 0.2% (1 system - wow! Microsoft has 4 more computers in the list than BSD! whoop-de-friggin'-do!)

      Consumer electronics? How many manufacturers out there, like Cisco, Netgear, D-Link, Belkin, etc., use embedded Windows in their products? Is that crickets I hear? How about Televisions? Sony, Visio, Philips, Samsung, LG, Mitsubishi, Toshiba, etc.? Any use Windows?

      And sure, Windows Mobile 7 seems poised to take over the smartphone market, right? Well, seems every single market study seems to say Android is growing fastest. Cnet is reporting that advertising impressions (usually a good leading indicator) give Windows a commanding 1% of the market in 2011. Rim will have 16%. Apple's iOS has to settle for a measly 32%, and Android just barely sneaks in at a lousy 46% of the market. Yep, Microsoft is just beating the pants off those guys, eh?
      NetArch.
      • RE: I, for one, welcome our Linux Penguin, Jeopardy Overlords

        @NetArch. Don't forget that there was a Windows HPC entry that didn't make the list because the cluster ran far faster running Linux...just sayin'. I don't know why everyone else in this forum can't figure out that 91.8% is not a coincidence <img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/wink.gif" alt="wink">
        rjacksix
      • Yes, Windows is on 5 of the Top500 supercomputers

        The question is, are any of those 5 computers not subsidized by Microsoft?
        bswiss
      • Linpack measures HARDWARE performance

        @ rjacksix

        They couldn't get the system to use all nodes under Windows, but that's a technical glitch, And since MS appears to be interested in portraying itself as a credible competitor to *nix for HPC purposes, they will fix the issue fairly quickly (quickly by Windows timescale, Linux would have done it on the spot).

        http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/software-bug-derailed-windows-bid-top-linux-s

        There is also an issue, in that the Windows run was using an MS-supplied Linpack suite, and the Linux run was using an open Linpack test they wrote themselves -- so even if the Windows Linpack run had succeeded, and "performed better", I expect that there would have been questions.

        After all, in theory the two tests (of hardware performance, remember) should give the same results.
        bswiss
      • RE: I, for one, welcome our Linux Penguin, Jeopardy Overlords

        @NetArch.

        U the sooth sayer of the future... he HAW....

        put a System/Z against u syt...

        poof...

        Do you have your head in the SAND....

        z390 System/Z z196 dec 2010 deployed... HLASM/COBOL
        z390 System/Z z196 dec 2010 faced w/IBM DB2 Express-C
        z390 System/Z z196 Jan 2011 Deployed/Tested CloudShare PRO
        Right out of the BOX....

        did you invent the Internet...
        Page-Cray