After watching the first round of robot Watson competing against humans Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings on Jeopardy!, it is clear that the human-built algorithms that define the artificial intelligence sometimes provide the correct answer and sometimes not.
It is also clear that computers may not be as fast as humans to click buttons.
If the above is gobbledygook to you, I refer to a three-night televised tournament between Watson, a computer built by IBM Research and a team of scientific universities; Rutter, the game show’s recipient of the most all-time winnings (with over $3 million in 2000); and Jennings, the recipient of the longest winning streak (from 74 games in 2004).
For the benefit of people in other time zones who may not have seen the show yet, I will hold off the scores; but I will share the following extract from IBM’s blog about whether humans or a robot will win the game:
One of Watson’s misses highlighted how difficult it is for a machine to play Jeopardy! The category was Olympic Oddities, and the answer was a gymnast with an unusual physical feature. Ken Jennings said “arm” and was wrong. Watson said “leg,” but host Alex Trebek ruled him incorrect because he didn’t say the gymnast’s leg was missing. During a viewing of the tape of the show earlier today, David Ferrucci, the IBM manager who heads up the Watson project, explained that Jeopardy! is an enormously broad domain of knowledge, and some of the classifications are pretty vague. In this case, the computer very likely didn’t understand what an “oddity” is. “The computer wouldn’t know that a missing leg is odder than anything else,” said Ferrucci. Still, over time, by reading more material and playing more games, Watson could come to understand what an oddity is.
Twitter was abuzz.
Ditto on Watson’s Facebook page.
I met Jennings two years ago on a book tour about his 2004 win.
I wonder if Watson, win or lose, will be available for autographs.