Just thought I would post this. IBM's Watson Computer to Play Against Jeopardy Champs IBM and the producers of quiz show Jeopardy announced Tuesday that an IBM computer known as "Watson" will compete against two of the show's most successful contestants in February 2011. Watson, named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, will go up against Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter (left) on February 14, 15, and 16 in two matches over three days. Jennings won 74 games in a row during the 2004-2005 season, taking home more than $2.5 million. Rutter is Jeopardy's highest-earning player, winning more than $3.25 million during several appearances in 2002 and 2005. The grand prize for the Watson-Jennings-Rutter matchup will be $1 million, with second place winnings of $300,000 and a $200,000 third prize. Jennings and Rutter will donate 50 percent of their winnings to charity, while IBM will donate 100 percent of Watson's cash. Getting Watson to the Jeopardy stage has taken several years. Many clues in Jeopardy rely on subtle word play, irony, and riddles, something at which humans excel but that computers have difficulty understanding. Essentially, IBM had to figure out how to get Watson to think. "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," Dr. David Ferrucci, head of the Watson research team, said in a statement. "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." In a video about Watson's journey (below), Ferrucci said said the nature of Jeopardy is "going to drive the technology in the right direction." "It's got the broad domain aspect, asks all kinds of things, which was one of the challenges we really wanted to take on," he said. "It had the confidence aspect; don't answer unless you think you're right. You also had to do it really quickly." IBM said the technology used by Watson could be helpful in areas like healthcare, to help accurately diagnose patients, to improve online self-service help desks, to provide tourists and citizens with specific information regarding cities, or prompt customer support via phone. To prepare, Watson played more than 50 "sparring games" against former Jeopardy champions. Watson also took and passed the same Jeopardy test administered to all potential contestants. In the video, Harry Friedman, executive producer of Jeopardy, said when IBM first approached the show, producers were intrigued but were also concerned about it being viewed as a stunt or gimmick. "But this was different. This was the notion of knowledge acquired by a computer against knowledge acquired and displayed by the best Jeopardy players," Friedman said. "This could be something important, and we want to be a part of it." Friedman and other producers first watched Watson in action in December 2009, when it sparred against two other human contestants. Watson is powered by an IBM POWER7 server, which is optimized to handle the massive number of tasks that Watson must perform at rapid speeds, IBM said. The machine also has a number of proprietary technologies that handle concurrent tasks and data while analyzing information in real time. link An in-depth look at Watson: Very impressive stuff coming after IBM's famous Deep Blue. So you're probably wondering how it's gone right? Well currently it's Day 1 of 3. You can catch the show here (hopefully not taken down!): edit: In case you don't know what Jeopardy! is, its a quiz show that frames a veiled answer, and the contestants have to come up with the associated question for the answer. Wiki link Will do my best to update as the quiz continues.