IBM’s Watson supercomputer bested its human counterparts, former Jeopardy champions Ken Jennings and Ben Rutter, in a practice round of the game show ahead of a formal competition that will air in February.
This isn’t the first time humans have taken on IBM’s technology. Chess grandmaster Gary Kasparov famously was the first world chess champion to lose to a computer when he took on Deep Blue. However, Watson opens up a new era in the battle of man versus machine, says Spencer E Ante at The Wall Street Journal.
Watson, which gets its name from IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, is a room-sized system, powered by 90 servers and 360 chips, and was built over the last four years by a team of IBM researchers. The computing system, which aims to understand language as humans naturally speak it, has a future helping doctors more accurately diagnose patients and may be useful at online self-service help desks, tourist information centers and customer hotlines, according to Julianne Pepitone at CNNMoney.com.