In a confrontation of Man vs. Machine, it’s the computer who came out victorious, with two victories and a tie.
On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, IBM put their Watson super computer against Ken Jennings, the only man to have put together 74 consecutive victories on Jeopardy, and Brad Rutter, who won 3.25 million dollars on the same television game show.
Taking on these two champions, Watson came out as the big winner over a three match series, with a tie and two victories. Using algorithms to understand the questions posed in English and assisted by a database containing millions of pages taken from encyclopaedias and novels to find the correct responses, the super-computer was able to answer without too many problems and ended up winning 77 150 dollars compared to 24 000 and 21 600 dollars for his human competitors. During the competition, the computer didn’t record a perfect score though, making a few mistakes and abstaining in the event that it wasn’t sure of the answer.
As planned, IBM will pay all of the computers winnings from the competition – 1 million dollars, to good causes, while the two men will redistribute half of their earnings to charity - 150 000 and 100 000 dollars.
Doctor Watson? For IBM, besides the challenge and the related advertising, this was primarily aimed at testing their super computer as they intend on using it in various fields like medicine as a reference for millions of documents so that it can assist in providing answers with great deal of certitude. In other words – a diagnostic tool.