Two days into The IBM Challenge, it is clear the supercomputer Watson is going to handily defeat its human opponents on “Jeopardy!”
The match consists of two games played over three episodes, with the first game ending Tuesday. A full game is yet to be played on Wednesday, but here are the money totals for the three contestants going into the last day of the match: Watson, $35,734; Brad Rutter, $10,400; Ken Jennings, $4,800. It’s highly unlikely that either human contestant will catch Watson, especially because the supercomputer is quick to buzz in with correct answers and has made sensible bets on Daily Doubles and in Final Jeopardy.
Still, I will watch the last day of the match, if for no other reason than to enjoy computer dominance for the last time before Skynet attains self-awareness and takes over the world. (And now that machines are a step closer to that reality, it’s a good thing Arnold Schwarzenegger is no longer busy governing California.)
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The “Final Jeopardy!” clue Tuesday was an easy one for me: “Its largest airport is named for a World War II hero; its second largest, for a World War II battle.” The answer, of course, is Chicago, where the largest airport (O’Hare International Airport) is named after Edward “Butch” O’Hare, and the second-largest airport (Midway International Airport) is named after the Battle of Midway.
Both human contestants answered correctly, but Watson responded, “What is Toronto?????” (Incidentally, the category was “U.S. Cities.”) Watson’s wrong answer didn’t matter, really, as the machine bet only $974.