IBM Watson computer wins US quiz show round

The company's supercomputer has won a practice round against champions of the US TV show Jeopardy, demonstrating the capabilities of artificial intelligence

IBM's Watson supercomputer won a practice round against Jeopardy quiz show champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter on Thursday, and in the process raised a lot of questions about the capabilities of artificial intelligence.

IBM Watson supercomputer Jeopardy

IBM's supercomputer Watson, pictured with researcher David Ferrucci, has won a practice round of US quiz show Jeopardy. Photo credit: IBM/ZDNet.com.

Watson, a four-year effort by IBM, was quicker on the draw, did not fall prey to emotion and had a voice that could be confused for wayward computer Hal 9000 from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. For IBM, Watson is about tackling verticals and bringing hardware and analytics to the fore. The company believes that the healthcare sector is the one that could make most use of Watson.

David Ferrucci, principal investigator of Watson DeepQA technology, said Watson can conduct self-assessments and learn. Naturally, Ferrucci was asked about whether Watson ran the risk of imitating Hal 9000. "That's science fiction," said Ferrucci. "We're not even close to that." He did, however, add that Watson is more like the computer on Star Trek than Hal.

For more on this ZDNet UK-selected story, see IBM's Watson wins Jeopardy practice round: Can humans hang? on ZDNet.com.


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