IBM "Watson" to Challenge Humans at Jeopardy!
Over the past four years, a team of IBM scientists have set out to
accomplish a grand challenge – build a computing system that rivals a
human’s ability to answer questions posed in natural language with
speed, accuracy and confidence. The computing system named Watson, will
compete on Jeopardy! against the show’s two most successful and
celebrated contestants -- Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter -- on February
14, 15 and 16th.
Jeopardy! provides the ultimate challenge because the game’s clues
involve analyzing subtle meaning, irony, riddles, and other complexities
in which humans excel and computers traditionally do not.
Watson's ability to understand the meaning and context of human
language, and rapidly process information to find precise answers to
complex questions, holds enormous potential to transform how computers
help people accomplish tasks in business and their personal lives.
Watson will enable people to rapidly find specific answers to complex
questions. The technology could be applied in areas such as healthcare,
for accurately diagnosing patients, to improve online self-service help
desks, to provide tourists and citizens with specific information
regarding cities, prompt customer support via phone, and much more.
The IBM Press release contains videos, pictures and press kits related to the "Challenge" ->
Who are the human competitors?
Competing against Watson will be two of the most celebrated players ever to appear on Jeopardy! Ken Jennings broke the Jeopardy!
record for the most consecutive games played by winning 74 games in a
row during the 2004-2005 season, resulting in winnings of more than $2.5
million. Brad Rutter won the highest cumulative amount ever by a single
Jeopardy! player, earning $3,255,102. The total amount is a
combination of Rutter’s original appearance in 2002, plus three
Tournament wins: the “Tournament of Champions” and the "Million Dollar
Masters Tournament" in 2002 and the "Ultimate Tournament of Champions"
What is Watson?
represents the latest in a long line of groundbreaking
innovations from a company dedicated to building a smarter planet. Sam
Palmisano, Chairman and CEO of IBM, explaining the future implications of
"After four years, our scientific team believes that Watson is ready for
this challenge based on its ability to rapidly comprehend what the
Jeopardy! clue is asking, analyze the information it has access to, come
up with precise answers, and develop an accurate confidence in its
response,” said Dr. David Ferrucci, the scientist leading the IBM
Research team that has created Watson. “Beyond our excitement for the
match itself, our team is very motivated by the possibilities that
Watson's breakthrough computing capabilities hold for building a smarter
planet and helping people in their business tasks and personal lives."
Watson’s first test will be on Jeopardy!, but the real test
will be applying the underlying data management and analytics technology
to different industries.
Real life application possibilities
In a recent article published in American Banker
, Constantin Gurdgiev and Shanker Ramamurthy look at the "potential applications of this technology to transform the operations of industries." Shanker Ramamurthy is General Manager of banking and financial markets at IBM. Constantin Gurdgiev
, is Head of Macroeconomics, Global Centre for Economic Development IBM Institute for Business Value in Dublin. They write, " the challenge in the financial services industry is to efficiently process diverse data streams and pick out relevant data insights to apply to strategic business and regulatory decisions." Gurdgiev and Ramamurthy point out that "Watson has the potential to get answers to incredibly difficult questions about strategic decisions, risks and market changes that can otherwise be elusive. It has the ability to create an interactive risk pricing system using a menu of models.. and will be able to deliver scenario analysis based not just on either event probability or expected loss/gain but also on more complex company objectives."
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