Karela Fry

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Understanding the world: a computer wins at Jeopardy

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Understanding a human language, such as English, has never been an easy task for a computer. This is why it is very hard to google a sensible answer to a question like is a giraffe taller than the petronas towers?. Here is a report, from PhysOrg, of a wonderful demonstration that the problem has been cracked:

Most of the banter and gentle humor that usually pepper the popular quiz show was gone as the supercomputer dominated the game by beating his human opponents to the buzzer again and again.

Ken Jennings — who holds the “Jeopardy!” record of 74 straight wins — shook his buzzer in silent frustration as the computer’s artificial voice answered the first dozen challenges without pause, getting all but one right.

“Watson” – named after Thomas Watson, the founder of the US technology giant — receives the clues electronically by text message at the same time as they are revealed to the human contestants.

The first player to hit the buzzer gets to answer the question. The others only get a chance if the first player gets the answer wrong.

Watson, which is not connected to the Internet, plays the game by crunching through multiple algorithms at dizzying speed and attaching a percentage score to what it believes is the correct response.

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Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

February 17, 2011 at 3:51 am

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