What better way to celebrate the romance of Valentine's Day than watching a supercomputer robot defeat Jeopardy!'s two greatest champions in a man-on-machine trivia throwdown? Gather your significant other; strap him or her to a couch if you need to, because this is important. Tonight, the first round of a very special Jeopardy! tournament begins.
Today at 7PM Eastern, the three-day mini-tournament will kick off, pitting IBM's supercomputer Watson against the two greatest modern Jeopardy! champions: Ken Jennings, who holds the record for longest winning streak, and Brad Rutter, who has taken home the most total prize money. It's an epic battle we've been looking forward to ever since we say Watson take on the champions in that preview battle last month--and it's finally here. But actual trivia knowledge may not turn out to be the deciding factor in the contest.
Over at Boing Boing, former champion Bob Harris (the 13-game Jeopardy! winner, not to be confused with the Lost in Translation character) lays out perhaps the most overlooked variable in Jeopardy!: the buzzer. We've been concentrating largely on the task of actually figuring out the answers to the questions (or questions to the answers--thanks for that weird rule, Jeopardy!), which for the layman is certainly challenging. The mix of trivia, riddles, puzzles, irony, and wordplay were assumed to be the toughest part of the game, but Harris lets us in on a secret: It's all about the buzzer. As he says, "At the top tournament level, every player can figure out nearly all of the correct responses, no matter how arcane."
When Trebek finishes reading a clue, a producer hits a button that flashes a light, telling the contestants the buzzers can now be triggered. Once you're at this top echelon of trivia mastery, the questions aren't the deciding factor--it's all about timing. Harris notes that "Since a computer can obviously react to the 'go' lights more rapidly and consistently than any human, it will probably win," providing Watson is allowed to buzz in as fast as possible. That corroborates what I saw in the practice match: None of the contestants, man or machine, actually got a clue wrong, and none went unanswered. This game may turn into a speed contest.
But that doesn't mean it won't be incredibly fun (and romantic) to watch.
Who is our new supercomputer overlord?
That was a neat show today. I'll be watching tomorrow as well.
just think...watson is at least on par with TOP JEOPARDY PLAYERS!! unbelieveable! just imagine what this means for artificial intelligence! by the way, robots cannot rule the world, because of the first three laws of robotics. (there will soon be more, given robots of increasing intelligence are reality, and no longer fiction.)
you like SG:A? so do i!
Somehow I doubt they're building all robots with Asimov's three laws of robtics... Which, BTW are all about not harming humans, not about ruling them.
This is a great test of modern AI techniques:
-understanding underlying themes
-deriving different elements of an answer and putting it all together
However, it's not really a fair contest, computers have a perfect memory of the millions of documents it had to store in order to compete. While the human opponents have decent memory, they're far from perfect.
Next time the should have Watson vs. Skynet vs. the Matrix. LOL!