Thursday, February 03, 2011

Israeli technology behind Jeopardy computer contestant

From Israel21C:
A team of about a dozen IBM employees from four countries -- the United States, Israel, China and Japan - have built an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered supercomputer, "Watson," which could be the world's smartest question-and-answer machine.

On February 14, 15 and 16, Watson will take on Jeopardy champs on national TV in North America. The long running, prime-time program poses answers to which contestants must provide the correct trivia question.

Watson, though he's just a machine, will attempt to win a $1 million prize by playing against two of the brainy game show's most celebrated contestants, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, in two matches over three days. IBM has pledged that if Watson wins, all the prize money will go to charity.

Named after Thomas J. Watson, the founder of IBM, and the assistant to Sherlock Holmes, the supercomputer will have a fan club watching. Dafna Sheinwald from the IBM Haifa Lab in Israel will be at the taping, excited to see how man will compete against machine.

It was a huge mission to develop a computer that could rival a human's ability to answer spoken questions posed as answers. Sheinwald and her research partner, David Carmel, say the contribution from the Israeli team was search algorithms that help sort out meaningful information from reams of heterogeneous data. That's their specialty at the IBM R&D facilities.
I found a poor-quality video of a test run showing Watson against the same two contestants - and it was very impressive:

A YouTube commenter wrote:

Welcome back to Final Jeopardy.

Our category is "Integers divided by zero".