In what may be the world's first TV game show featuring a battle of machine intelligence versus human wits, the IBM computing system Watson will compete on Jeopardy! against two of the show's most successful contestants--Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. The winner of the two matches played over three days on Feb. 14, 15 and 16 will receive a $1 million grand prize.
"After four years, our scientific team believes that Watson is ready for this challenge based on its ability to comprehend what the Jeopardy! clue is asking, analyze the information it has access to, come up with precise answers and develop an accurate confidence in its response," said Dr. David Ferrucci, the scientist leading the IBM Research team that has created Watson, in a statement.
The Watson system is named after IBM founder Thomas Watson. It was built by a team of IBM scientists who wanted to create a computing system that rivals a human's ability to answer questions posed in natural language. Jeopardy! poses a particularly tough challenge for such systems because the TV game show requires contestants to analyze subtle meanings, irony, riddles and other complexities.
"Performing well on Jeopardy! requires a combination of skills and it will be fascinating to see whether a computer can compete against arguably the two best Jeopardy! players ever," said the show's executive producer, Harry Friedman, in announcing the contest.