So, who cares? What difference does it make to me – I don't even watch Jeopardy? While what IBM is pursuing may be somewhat dismissed as veiled gratuitous public relations by some pundits, http://www.itjungle.com/tfh/tfh011011-story08.html, this human like intelligence is a demonstration of what will permeate our lives well within a generation. The research and development prowess that IBM will demonstrate on nation-wide TV, regardless if it “wins”, represents the type of gating technology that will be the progenitor for an industry that doesn't even exist yet: human assistants ranging from intelligent prosthetics to nannies to soldiers and home robots. Sound wild? A generation ago who would have thought there would be multiple computing platform in the home?
The types of technological challenges that have to be overcome for the realization of a “home robot market” include: multiple simultaneous emotion extraction from enhanced speech and facial recognition, natural language interfaces, cognitive abilities, symbolic interpretation of live vision objects, tactical grasping, near instantaneous database access or some digital neural equivalent, etc, etc.
What was learned from IBM Deep Blue's victory over Grand Master Gary Kasperov in 1997 http://www.research.ibm.com/deepblue/home/html/b.html) was an early step. Today's ability to take on the best of Jeopardy allows us to learn and define the technological hurdles that must be solved that will usher in the next revolution in computing. IBM taking on the best of Jeopardy is important to anybody who has an interest in their high-technology career over the next twenty years. New markets and industries will be created that are unimaginable today.
For more information see: http://www-03.ibm.com/innovation/us/watson