Watson, IBM's supercomputer, made his debut on Jeopardy! last night, facing off against two of the game show's most celebrated contestants—Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter—in the first part of an extended three-day contest. Double Jeopardy and Final Jeopardy will be played today and on Wednesday, and as it stands Watson is tied with Cutter with $5,000 in earnings. The episode was as about as exciting as watching a computer answering trivia questions with a robotic voice could be, but given the cultural significance of the February sweeps stunt—will computers like Watson obviate the need for humans in certain jobs?—we've singled out the three highlights:
After answering the second clue of the game correctly, Watson chose a category for the first time. By chance, that clue happened to be a Daily Double. He wagered the maximum amount, $1,000, and answered correctly.
Watson also proved himself to be somewhat of a pop culture expert with his domination of the category "Beatles People."
What everyone was really watching for, however, was to see Watson goof. He did, of course, and it was quite embarrassing. Here he is repeating an incorrect answer that Ken Jennings had given just seconds before:
The next segment of Jeopardy!: Man vs. Machine airs tonight. Check local listings for time and channel information.