Computer Trounces Contestants On Jeopardy
The IBM supercomputer named Watson defeated Jeopardy's best contestants in round one of their much publicized competition. Watson was quick with its correct answers.
You may have seen the commercials for this beast, which is capable of untangling the nuances of human language, and can discern meanings of words according to context as presented on Jeopardy.
It's very adept at deriving meanings of words that sound the same but are spelled different too. You would have to admit that the technology is awe inspiring.
It's interesting to note however, that in the final question of round one, the computer lost. Jeopardy contestants Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter got the correct answer on the final clue which was, 'It's largest airport is named for a World War II hero, its second largest for a World War II battle'. The correct answer was 'What is Chicago'? The computer answered, 'What is Toronto?'....not even a U.S. city. Since the computer had only wagered $947, it still won.
These things are getting more than a little scary. The good part of this competition, other than the compelling nature of it in and of itself, is that the computer's winnings will go to charity. The human contestants have pledged half of their winnings to charitable causes as well. You can see a lot more detail on the story here where I found it at msnbc.msn.com .