The computers want to play Jeopardy

Pax Arcana

alex_trebekAs if Jeopardy needed even more socially awkward contestants, IBM says it is building a computer that will be able to compete with humans on the famous trivia game show.

You may remember that a previous IBM effort resulted in a machine that beat chess masters at their own game. Apparently, Jeopardy is harder than chess for computers:

But chess is a game of limits, with pieces that have clearly defined powers. “Jeopardy!” requires a program with the suppleness to weigh an almost infinite range of relationships and to make subtle comparisons and interpretations. The software must interact with humans on their own terms, and fast.

Indeed, the creators of the system — which the company refers to as Watson, after the I.B.M. founder, Thomas J. Watson Sr. — said they were not yet confident their system would be able to compete successfully on the show, on which human champions typically provide correct responses 85 percent of the time.

I think the IBM machine will lose because there’s no way a computer designed to interact with normal humans will be able to handle Alex Trebek without popping wires and sizzling like in a 1980s movie. Unless they can hard code a douchey condescension dissipator into the BIOS layer, of course. I don’t know. I hate technology.

Computer Program to Take On ‘Jeopardy!’ [NYT]


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