If you're anything like me, you've fantasized about being a contestant on "Jeopardy"--how you'd write your name in the name box, how much you'd wager on a Daily Double, and how you'd awkwardly banter with Alex upon your introduction. Last week I got to live my dream of playing a full "Jeopardy" game--and to make the situation even more amazing, I got to do it against Watson, the famous IBM supercomputer.
In segments to be aired starting today, Watson--which boasts nearly 3,000 Power7 processors and 16 terabytes of memory and has the ability to compute more than 30 billion operations per second--will take on "Jeopardy" champs Ken Jennings (the winningest champion in the "Jeopardy" history) and Brad Rutter (the biggest money earner in the show's history, with more than $3.2 million).
Watson trained for its game show stint in its own faux "Jeopardy" studio at IBM Research's Yorktown, N.Y., facility. That's also where I had my chance at "Jeopardy" stardom.
Turned out Watson's a formidable challenger, having been fed massive amounts of information from a range of thesauri and encyclopedias, plus the Bible. And since a "Jeopardy" answer has to be deduced in around three seconds, Watson's response rate is lightning-fast.
Indeed, Watson rang in with blazing speed on every question posed to us--ranging on topics from international sports trophies to laundry detergent to fashion to tennis vocabulary--which gets frustrating when you actually know the answers. … Read more