While IBM’s current supercomputer/future human slavemaster Watson isn’t the first one to go mano-a- mano against a human opponent in a game that’s not inside a computer (that honor goes to Deep Blue after beating Chess World Champion Garry Kasparov), it’s the first time a computer goes up against a human linguistically. What’s scary/fascinating about this is that Watson can analyze the English language and understand the meaning of complex sentences and respond accordingly – in this case in the form of Jeopardy answers.
The result? Watson absolutely creamed two Jeopardy pros in the first day of competition with Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter only managing to earn a paltry sum of $2,400 and $5,400, respectively. In contrast, Watson earned a whopping $35,734. Watson’s participation in Jeopardy isn’t just for collecting prize money (the overall winner of the game will earn $1 million dollars), it’s a real tech demonstration of what IBM’s technology can do for real world applications and analytics, as the same tech that made its Jeopardy victory possible can one day allow ordinary computers to understand the nuance of human speech.
That’s assuming that Skynet doesn’t become self-aware.