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Why is Brad Rutter so far behind?
Delaney Turner 270003RQ8K Delaney.Turner@ca.ibm.com | | Tags:  business_analytics ibmwatson ibmsoftware
0 Comments | 913 Visits |
Why is Brad Rutter so far behind in the IBM Watson web poll?
After 9,000 votes, only seven percent of respondents think he has any chance of defeating Watson. That's three points lower than when I first blogged about the project and probably lower since yesterday's test match, where Rutter came in third. He took in $1,200 to Watson's $4,400.
Let me remind you: Rutter won more money than Jennings (almost a million dollars more) and defeated Jennings in the 2005 Ultimate Tournament of Champions. But as far as our web site visitors are concerned, the next Grand Challenge is a clear two-horse race. Truly "Man vs. Machine," not "Men vs. Machine."
I have a few, possibly shaky, ideas.
The first is familiarity: Jennings 74-game unbeaten streak captured the attention of audiences beyond Jeopardy! fans and trivia buffs, so he's a more well-known quantity and thus, easier to root for. Full disclosure - I belong to both camps and apart from Jennings and Cliff Claven even I have a hard time remembering any of the individual contestants.
Next, it's possible people see Jennings' success as more impressive than Rutter's because of his ability to answer questions on nearly every conceivable topic. Jennings would have seen 4,575 questions over his 75-game stay on the show - that's a lot of ground to cover, yet audiences saw him equally at home in every conceivable category, be it Shakespearean Villains or Ancient Sumerian Sports Legends.
Not that Rutter didn't also have an impressive store of knowledge to draw on as well. You don't win $3 million against the world's best without knowing a thing or two about Potent Potables. But I think there's a perception that Rutter won because he played the game more strategically rather than simply knowing more than everyone else. I also have a sense people think it will be won or lost on how much you know, not on how you approach the game.
They're two different - though not mutually exclusive approaches to playing the game. So far, we've seen a lot of attention given to how much data Watson can process and how quickly it can process it - 80 teraflops, or 80 trillion operations, per second, to be exact. And I wouldn't discount the strategic approach. Not only does Watson have a vast store of information to draw from, it can also learn from its mistakes and learn to play better and with time, more strategically as well.
Rutter may be the apparent underdog, but don't count him out. I think the margin of victory will closer than you think.
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