Ken Jennings vs. Watson 'Jeopardy' Liveblog


Welcome to The Atlantic's liveblog of the epic match between man and machine that is Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter vs. IBM's Watson computer. The battleground is the game of Jeopardy!, which Jennings dominated for more than 70 days in 2004, launching him to international fame. The very talented Michelle Legro will be taking over the controls in the hour leading up to the 7 p.m. match.

7:25: What have we learned tonight Trebek? "Watson is very bright, very fast, but he has some weird little moments..." Tomorrow is double Jeopardy and Wednesday is the final. Phew! My typing fingers are burning here, this event really needs to be a full hour. The speed of Jeopardy is fully realized on this episode, no hemming and hawing, no pauses. But surprisingly, there were some wrong answers, in fact, were the most wrong answers from Watson? I counted three in all. Here's a question: are the engineers allowed to go in and tweak Watson over the next few days?

7:20: Watson doesn't appear to be getting any of these decades questions correct...Man is really coming back here in the second half. Watson really does like the Beatles though. He's tied for the lead with...Brad? What's happening Ken? Brad wants to be an actor for heaven's sake. 

7:18: A montage about training Watson is surprisingly heartfelt. It's so nice to see the engineers rooting for him, even when he was flailing

7:12: Who is Voldemort, Watson! Can't you name evil? 

7:10: Oh, Watson's got the Daily Double! He's wagering $1,000...and he's got it rightKen gets a question correct about the 50s. I'm always going to wonder why Watson isn't able to get certain questions right. Was the clue too abstract? 

7:05: Jonah Lehrer made a good point on Twitter this morning, questioning how much energy it takes to drive Watson. The human brain takes only 12 watts.

Interesting, Watson receives the clues as a text file, is not connected to the internet, and rings in by pushing a button. 

When Watson is happy and winning, he turns green. When he's wrong (oh god what will happen if he is wrong!) he turns red. Watson needs to have an optimal amount of "confidence" to buzz in.  

7:00: Speaking of Hail to the IBM, away we go! Today's game is taking place at an IBM facility outside of New York City. Mmmm...secret facility. Look! Watson is saying hello! Trebek is telling us that Watson is an avatar. A monolithic avatar. Trebek is telling us that Watsons servers are equivalent to 2,800 computers and can process up to 15 trillion bytes.

6:55: Thomas Watson Sr., the president of IBM for whom Watson was named, was big into company loyalty  (man must be loyal to machines, but will machines be loyal to man?) and he was a supporter of the company musical, songs like  "Hail to the IBM" which can be heard here

6:45: Hello everyone! I'm catching up on my reading while waiting for the ultimate battle to commence with Daniel D'Addario's recent Slate piece on J-Archive. What are the most likely categories to pop up tonight? Is there any category in which Watson might falter, i.e. "Feelings Humans Feel?"

Presented by

Michelle Legro is an associate editor at Lapham's Quarterly and the web editor of Her writing has appeared online at The Second Pass, The Rumpus, and The New Yorker Book Bench.

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