Call it the digital age's John Henry showdown. But this time, it's "Jeopardy!," not a train tunnel, and an IBM computer instead of a steam shovel.
The iconic game show announced Tuesday that it will pit Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, its all-time most successful contestants, against "Watson," an IBM computing system, in a series of battles next year.
The showdown, to be aired February 14-16, will feature two matches to see if a machine can compete in a contest that will require it to interpret real-language questions (or, in "Jeopardy!" parlance, answers), research them and answer quicker than the flesh-and-blood champs.
"After four years, our scientific team believes that Watson is ready for this challenge based on its ability to rapidly comprehend what the 'Jeopardy!' clue is asking, analyze the information it has access to, come up with precise answers, and develop an accurate confidence in its response," David Ferrucci, the scientist leading the IBM Research team that has created Watson, said in a written release.
"Beyond our excitement for the match itself, our team is very motivated by the possibilities that Watson's breakthrough computing capabilities hold for building a smarter planet and helping people in their business tasks and personal lives."
Watson's software is powered by an IBM Power7 server and, according to developers, is optimized to process complex questions and render answers quickly.FULL STORY