On 'Jeopardy!,' Humans Will Battle Machines

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Ken Jennings, the winningest Jeopardy! player in history having played 74 games in a row back in the 2004-2005 season, will go up against Watson, an IBM program developed by the company's artificial intelligence team, this coming February. The winner gets a $1 million cash prize, which IBM, if it's able to show that artifical intelligence has advanced to the point where it can beat a human in an unpredictable question and answer game, will give the money away to charity.

The competition is reminiscent of when IBM developed a chess-playing computer to compete against chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997.

The "Jeopardy!" answer-and-question format is a different kind of challenge. It often requires contestants to deal with subtleties, puns and riddles and come up with answers fast.

"Watson" is named for IBM founder Thomas J. Watson. It will look nothing like the computer "maid" on "The Jetsons." Rather, IBM said its on-screen appearance will be represented by a round avatar.

The computer has already been tested in some 50 games against past "Jeopardy!" champions. But neither IBM nor "Jeopardy!" representatives would say what "Watson's" record was.

Read the full story at the Associated Press.

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Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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