Today, IBM unveiled details of an “advanced” artificial intelligence computing system that will be able to compete with humans on Jeopardy!, America’s favorite quiz show. It comes as no surprise that the company’s highly trained engineers believe its creation will be able to understand the complexity of a human Q&A session.
The AI system, codenamed Watson, has been under development in IBM laboratories for nearly two years with a focus on being able to deftly handle semantics, or the meanings behind words. But with a development like this comes the sophistication and capability of understanding and computing word analogies, puns, double entendres and relationships like size and location. In addition, Watson will compute a statistical confidence in the responses it provides, and IBM claims that it can “do all of this in a matter of seconds.”
“The essence of making decisions is recognizing patterns in vast amounts of data, sorting through choices and options, and responding quickly and accurately,” said Samuel J. Palmisano, IBM Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. “Watson is a compelling example of how the planet – companies, industries, cities – is becoming smarter. With advanced computing power and deep analytics, we can infuse business and societal systems with intelligence. This project is the latest example of IBM’s longstanding commitment to fundamental research and to overcoming ‘grand challenges’ in science and technology.”
All in all, it’s most important to remember that Watson will be competing against the highest level of unsurpassed, massively parallel computing architecture – the human mind – well, at least the folks on the show.
The official date of the Jeopardy! showdown is yet to be announced, but we will definitely be keeping our DVRs on standby.