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Jeopardy, computer plays

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The question is uploaded via text file. I watched last night, the thing is fast. Its a free standing super computer, i.e., its not connected to the internet. It chooses the three most likely answers for a given question, each answer is ranked by percent chance of being right. If the most likely answer is beyond the "buzz threshold" it will ring in.

As one would expect, on the easier questions at the beginning of the round the computer schooled the other contestants. But as the questions (answers, whatever) became harder and more analytical the computer struggled a bit more. Although even the people who wrote the code for the machine said they are often surprised at what it can figure out. It remembers where "daily doubles" are most often hidden and actively searches for them.

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I think it's amazing. Besides being able to win its owners piles of money on Jeopardy, imagine the benefit of having a computer to which you can simply ask a question, and then get an answer to it. Get a Watson in your basement (easier said than done, I know), rig up speakers and mics throughout the house (or office) and you have answers on command, any answer, almost as fast as if you thought of it yourself.

Whether or not the humans win the match is not the standard to measure human success and achievement; the fact that a machine was built that could engage in such a contest is.

Btw, has Watson answered any questions incorrectly?

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I think it's amazing. Besides being able to win its owners piles of money on Jeopardy, imagine the benefit of having a computer to which you can simply ask a question, and then get an answer to it. Get a Watson in your basement (easier said than done, I know), rig up speakers and mics throughout the house (or office) and you have answers on command, any answer, almost as fast as if you thought of it yourself.

Whether or not the humans win the match is not the standard to measure human success and achievement; the fact that a machine was built that could engage in such a contest is.

Btw, has Watson answered any questions incorrectly?

Last night, with the final jeopardy category of "US Cities", Watson's answer was "What is Toronto???????". Seems like the programmers missed something there.

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If you mean the massive question marks; they mentioned that it functioned as an indicator that the computer was very uncertain.

No, I actually meant that Toronto is not a US city. I read somewhere that Chicago was it's next answer. If it could have eliminated Toronto, because it didn't match the category, then it would have gotten it right. Of course, there are several cities in the US named Toronto, so that might serve as a partial explanation. But as The Wrath said, it doesn't erase the fact that it overwhelmed the competition.

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Unfortunately the computer had a great advantage over the human players. It was able to beat them to the buzzer almost constantly. If you watch the videos, you'll notice that the human players tried to buzz but came second, and the computer got the correct answer.

Not wanting to detract from the achievement of IBM in building a super computer that can understand tricky textual questions and come up with the correct answer, but the score difference between the computer and the human should not be taken to represent true difference in knowledge quantity, only advantage in buzzing ability. Consider this imaginary situation: All the questions are extremely easy (say, math questions). In this case no one would be surprised that a computer can beat a human champion in Jeopardy match. For all we know, the human players knew the correct answers to more questions than the computer did, but lost simply due to buzzing ability.

I am excited to see a computer that can come up with the answers to the questions Watson did, but this whole 'computer beats human champions' thing is a sham from IBM. They're blowing dust in the eyes of tv viewers.

Edit: For those of you unaware, in Jeopardy you can not buzz until the host has finished reading the question. That means as a human player if you know the answer, you can either buzz frequently (not entirely sure if this does not get punished by a delay) or wait until the host has finished reading the question. Furthermore, Watson received an electronic signal telling it when buzzing became 'enabled'. This enabled the computer to beat the humans to the buzzer in situations when they both knew the answers.

Edited by Soth
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Unfortunately the computer had a great advantage over the human players..

I would tend to agree with this, and thought as much when I saw the teaser video a couple days ago. Unless there is some built in chance of delay for the computer to miss a buzzer click, it could win nearly every time.

As for actual buzzer technique, contestants are able to hammer on the button while hearing the answer. You can see contestants, including Jennings, doing this a few seconds before the answer is finished, but it will not sound until enabled.

And how fast is the answer uploaded to the computer? Faster or equal to the visual and auditory transfer of information of the human contestants?

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