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AI IBM Television Entertainment

Watson Wins Jeopardy Contest 674

NicknamesAreStupid writes "The word is in, Watson beats the two best Jeopardy players. Sure, it cost IBM four years and millions of dollars and requires a room full of hardware. In thirty years it will all fit in your pocket and cost $19.99. Resistance is futile; you will be trivialized."
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Watson Wins Jeopardy Contest

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  • I think it is safe to say the AI Winter is over.
    • Re:AI Winter (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @01:02AM (#35228558)
      Why? I don't see anything more special or "AI" in this than in Deep Blue's wins at chess so long ago.

      Yes, the natural language processing is impressive. But it takes a really huge computer, and it's really nothing more than a bunch of clever software along with a database of trivia.

      Watson showed very clearly how deeply it did not "understand" anything about what it was doing, via the nature of the blunders that it did make.
      • Why? I don't see anything more special or "AI" in this than in Deep Blue's wins at chess so long ago.

        Chess can be brute forced in a way that language can't. Not to say that Deep Blue was all brute force, and I don't think Watson is true AI, but I do think it's a moderately significant step, not to mention more practically applicable. If nothing else, it (in combination with some decent speech recognition software) brings us one step closer to a Star Trek style voice interface, and that's a damn worthwhile cause in my book!

        These debates always remind me of something I read once, too. I forget the book, but

      • Re:AI Winter (Score:5, Insightful)

        by HungryHobo ( 1314109 ) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @05:46AM (#35229982)

        Ah the forever shifting goalposts of AI. []

        ""A machine will never be able to read the written word."
        "A machine will never understand speech."
        "A machine will never be able to look at something and figure out what 3D shape it is."
        "A machine will never drive a car."
        "A machine will never play chess."
        "A machine will never play chess well."
        "A machine will never beat a chess Grandmaster."
        "A machine will never beat my favourite chess Grandmaster."

        Go back far enough and you can find people making these same sorts of predictions about tasks that seem simple today. Arithmetic, algebra, spell-checking - all were clearly Things Only the Mind of Man (and of a Few Unusually Intelligent Women, Bless 'Em) Could Ever Do."

        "But a funny thing always happens, right after a machine does whatever it is that people previously declared a machine would never do. What happens is, that particular act is demoted from the rarefied world of "artificial intelligence", to mere "automation" or "software engineering".

        Apparently, you see, when they said "a machine will never be able to spot-weld a car together", they meant to say "a machine will never be aware that it's welding a car together". So all of those production-line robots aren't actually a triumph of artificial intelligence at all, any more than aircraft autopilots or optical character recognition or the square-root button on a calculator - which, after all, merely duplicated a perfectly obvious slide-rule operation - are.

        But don't worry. Once someone comes up with a computer that can carry on an intelligent IM chat with you, that'll be proper AI. (And a machine will never do it, of course!)"

        Now of course we can cross off "A machine will never be able to beat the champion at jeopardy"
        but of course that's trivial really.... and look at the mistakes it made while beating one of the best human players. obviously since it made odd mistakes it isn't really a triumph of AI.

      • by paiute ( 550198 ) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @11:21AM (#35232246)

        ... really nothing more than a bunch of clever software along with a database of trivia.

        Why do you hate Ken Jennings?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 17, 2011 @12:57AM (#35228506)

    Does Ken Jennings read Slashdot comments?

  • This computer later became Skynet.
    What --- who shall I say, who --- is Watson?
    • by ZiakII ( 829432 )
      This computer later became Skynet.

      More like HAL, I mean IBM is only 1 letter way on each.
    • It's when they start teaching it to eat that we have a huge problem... because then it will be "Alimentary, my dear Watson".

      Thankyou, thankyou. I'll be here all week, make sure to tip your waitress.

      • Thankyou, thankyou. I'll be here all week, make sure to tip your waitress.

        She is a cow, and that is a pastime in my part of the country...

  • I tuned in for the end. One thing I'm very curious about is how Watson decided how much to wager for the daily doubles and Final Jeopardy. I haven't seen much discussion of these, but it seemed from the numbers it was giving that it had some set of heuristics to decide how much to wager based on how much money it had, the amount of of money the other contestants had, and possibly (not sure about this) its confidence in the category type. The Final Jeopardy category was 19th century novels, which seems to b

    • It was probably intentional that they did not give it a realistic, human-sounding voice. Research has shown that people do not want machines to appear too human. They react negatively.
      • It was probably intentional that they did not give it a realistic, human-sounding voice. Research has shown that people do not want machines to appear too human. They react negatively.

        [citation needed]

        [Star Trek and Asimov references don't count]

        • Its theory, but still.


        • It was probably intentional that they did not give it a realistic, human-sounding voice. Research has shown that people do not want machines to appear too human. They react negatively.

          [citation needed]

          [Star Trek and Asimov references don't count]

          Actually, I think humans DO want robots that appear very human, and have wanted them for hundreds of years. I'd also put it to you that humans do and have, in fact, reacted in certain positive ways towards machines that appear human.

          The dame de voyage (French) or dama de viaje (Spanish) was a direct predecessor to today's sex dolls that originated in the seventeenth century. Dames de voyage were makeshift fornicatory dolls made of sewn cloth or old clothes, used by French and Spanish sailors while isolated at sea during long voyages.

          -- Ferguson, Anthony. The Sex Doll: A History. McFarland, 2010 []

          One of the earliest recorded appearances of manufactured sex dolls dates to 1908, in Iwan Bloch's The Sexual Life of Our Time. Bloch wrote:

          In this connection we may refer to fornicatory acts effected with artificial imitations of the human body, or of individual parts of that body. There exist true Vaucansons in this province of pornographic technology, clever mechanics who, from rubber and other plastic materials, prepare entire male or female bodies, which, as hommes or dames de voyage, subserve fornicatory purposes. More especially are the genital organs represented in a manner true to nature. Even the secretion of Bartholin's glans is imitated, by means of a "pneumatic tube" filled with oil. Similarly, by means of fluid and suitable apparatus, the ejaculation of the semen is imitated. Such artificial human beings are actually offered for sale in the catalogue of certain manufacturers of "Parisian rubber articles.

          -- Bloch, Iwan. The Sexual Life of Our Time []

          So, yeah, it may be a bit taboo to some people, but not admitting to your family that your girlfriend is a Nexus 6 doesn't count as "reacting negatively" to the idea of h

    • by ArtDent ( 83554 )

      The IBM Research blog has had a few good articles about Watson over the past few days, including one about wagering: []

      I didn't think that Final Jeopardy would have been especially easy for Watson. The majority of the clue was indirectly related to the correct response, and the connection hinged on a single word (inspired). I suspect Jennings' behavior was based more on simple arithmetic than on any assumptions about Watson's response.

      • Thanks for the blog link. That looks very interesting. As to the ease of the question, I don't think the major issues had to do with "inspired". I would have identified the key issues as parsing that they were looking for an author, and then associating Walachia with Transylvania and then Dracula.
    • by loconet ( 415875 )

      Here [] is a post on Waton's wagering by IBM Research.

    • It seemed from the behavior of Jennings realized that Watson had won given the easy nature of the question.

      Jennings realized that Watson had won, but not due to the easy nature of the final Jeopardy question. Watson already had the game won before Final Jeopardy. Had Ken doubled his score with his wager and Watson got Final Jeopardy wrong, Watson still would have won by $1.
    • Jennings realized that Watson had won since combined with the first day Watson had an insurmountable lead. Jennings betting strategy even before seeing the question was to play for second. For what its worth I didn't know the final jeopardy question...

    • My impression is that the wagering isn't influenced by the category but only its standing against the other players, at least for Final Jeopardy where it didn't have the benefit of seeing previous responses in the category. I thought it funny that they decided not to round the wagers to more typically human choices. That was certainly deliberate on the developers' part.

      I also thought it was interesting that the only category the humans swept was the one asking for the directors of movies. These were simple

    • Doubtful. As impressive as their win is, and as much as they've learned from it, they mostly have a computer that's really good at Jeopardy. I don't think that it could answer an essay question in a satisfactory manner.

      We still have a long way to go despite how far we've come.
      • But it may be able to answer a lot of questions asked by, say, a phone support caller. Most human interactions of use to business aren't essays. They're small question and answer sessions, going back and forth. If a computer can do that even marginally we have no more need for India, which can't do it well either but at least the computer is a sunk cost.

    • Yes, but it answers everything in the form of a question.
  • As ken said: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dayofswords ( 1548243 ) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @01:00AM (#35228532)

    I for one welcome our new computer overload.

  • For some reason I was under the impression that this had already occurred but is just now being aired. And IIRC, it was already known that Watson won. So why is this news? Or, I'm a precog and should have made some money on this :)

    • by dlgeek ( 1065796 )
      There was a practice round, and it was widely circulated that Watson had won that, though it wasn't true - it dominated the first two rounds but Ken pulled ahead with a huge wager in a double jeopardy and then another in final jeopardy (which Watson got wrong). The results of the actual challenge did not leak.
  • A lot of it has to do with game mechanics, like listening to what the other contestant said in a wrong answer and adjusting your answer accordingly. Case and point was on the first night in the "Decade" category where watson got beat on clicking the button, and the player that beat him said "What are the 1920's" and was wrong, and then watson answered "What are the 20's", which was still the wrong answer....

    I have to admit, it was pretty impressive as that is a fairly non-trivial computational problem of n
    • by DAldredge ( 2353 )
      Watson doesn't know what they other players questions are so such a mistake is understandable.
    • by dlgeek ( 1065796 )
      Apparently the decision to not take the input of what the other players said was partly based an an assumption that the other players would almost never be wrong!
      • I think it's more about the fast nature of the game and the time it would take to type it out.

  • by MortimerV ( 896247 ) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @01:01AM (#35228548) Homepage

    I didn't watch it all, but the thing I noticed was that, when Watson thought it had an answer, most of the time it'd click in first. The other contestants didn't have a chance to attempt to answer.

    So Watson wins on reaction time, which isn't a surprise for a computer that knows exactly when it can first ring in. How would it have done with a human's reaction time on clicking, just answering on questions alone?

    • by ArtDent ( 83554 )

      One interesting thing to note is that Watson was tied (on Monday) or behind (today) after the Jeopardy round and pulled ahead (way ahead yesterday) in the Double Jeopardy round, where the questions are harder. That's not what you'd expect if its competitors knew all the answers and it was winning on ring-in speed alone.

      In any case, Watson was playing Jeopardy, and ringing in is a part of Jeopardy. Rutter and especially Jennings certainly benefited from that part of the game during their long winning runs. W

      • by artor3 ( 1344997 )

        Watson was able to "hear" their responses. It made one blunder in the game, repeating Jennings' answer, because it failed to recognize that the 20s and the 1920s are the same decade.

    • by jdogalt ( 961241 )

      The part I find most amusing is the irony that Watson's speed on the buzzer seems directly attributable to the handicap it was given vis-a-vis not having to do the audio-speech and visual-text AI recognition that its human opponents had to do. The irony being that those two allegedly mature areas of AI research are ones in which IBM has been shipping commercial products for years. I suspect that if Watson had to do such processing, it would have been slaughtered just as bad as it slaughtered its opponents

  • It's not going to take 30 years for that system to fit in your pocket and cost $20. It's going to take 5 or 10.

    • Even assuming Moore's Law holds, it's roughly $1-2 billion. Now, it looks like Moore said 2 years, but let's be generous and assume 18 months -- 10 years is 120 months, 120/18 is roughly 6.67 iterations of Moore's Law -- let's be generous and round up to 7.

      2**7 is 128. So assuming it stays exactly the same size, the very best you can expect is $1 billion / 128 = $7,812,500. Could software save it? Maybe, if you expect software to get 390,625 times faster.

      I can't find much on the dimensions, but it's a room-

      • Then there's the little problem that below 22nm (or 18, or maybe a little lower), all bets are off as far as whether Moore's Law continues to apply. We may very well be approaching the end of the "make computers faster by putting more transistors on a chip" phase of technological evolution.
      • I think a better method than a back-of-the envelope calculation like you've made there is to instead look at the amount of space now occupied by a system as powerful as a room-sized setup in 2001. Unfortunately, I don't have any good room-sized setups from 2001 to use as an example.

        Secondly, you are ignoring a few factors. One is that cost isn't an issue. Most of the cost of Watson was likely in software. The software has been made now. Another copy costs absolutely nothing to make. Another is that there a

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        Again, you'd have to expect the software to get many times faster.

        I don't think that's an unreasonable assumption though, parsing a natural sentence into computer logic seems like a very hard problem. Languages are full of idiosyncrasies, ambiguities, implied context, fuzzy definitions and subtly changing meaning.

        Let's for example take "named after", and that you can properly parse the sentence to find "name" is a transitive verb and "after" is a preposition. That narrows it down to 5 and 12 meanings respectively:

        tr.v. named, namÂing, names
        1. To give a name to: named

    • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

      It's not going to take 30 years for that system to fit in your pocket and cost $20. It's going to take 5 or 10.

      Why 5 or 10? Devices as fast and sophisticated as the supercomputers of 2006 or 2001 are not available pocket-sized or for $20 today.

  • What I mean is, what IBM products will be the beneficiary of the tech they developed to make Watson; DB/2? WebSphere? You've gotta think that the IBM execs only agreed to go forward with this whole thing with some thought to being able to leverage it in other products.

    Personally, I've love to think this was a "pure research" thing, but I doubt anyone really does that anymore (though I hope I'm wrong).

  • ... that Watson tended to fare poorer against the human beings when the clues were very terse.

    That said, I don't want to dismiss the natural language recognition capabilities of Watson. They are no small feat, and by all rights, the designers of it should be congratulated on this effort. Nevertheless, with respect to the game of Jeopardy, I remain convinced that Watson's key advantage over the other players was that it is essentially a super-fast speed reader, having a few moments to pontificate the clue before any human could possibly be finished reading it. If the text of the clue had been transmitted to Watson more slowly to approximate the menial task of reading, I think it might have been a better indicator of whether or not Watson was actually out-thinking Brad and Ken. A speed I think would be appropriate to transmit the text of the clue at is about the same as what you'd get with a 14,400 bps modem, which still would amount to insanely fast speed reading, but it's at least within an order of magnitude of what is humanly achievable. Then, the amount of time that Watson has to think about the clue gets a lot closer to how much time the other players get to think about it. As it sits, Watson gets to start trying to parse the entire sentence before any human has even finished reading the first word.

    Of course, I don't think that Deep Blue really out-played Kasparov on a level playing field either... I would be far more impressed if they could design a chess-playing computer that only considers a few hundred board combinations and still plays at a grandmaster level, since that is all that even the best human grandmasters do.

    • Don't forget clicker speed.....there were many times that the two humans knew the correct answer and the computer won. That's an advantage that can't be ignored.
    • by Namarrgon ( 105036 ) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @02:40AM (#35229198) Homepage

      Who cares, if Watson's artificial reflexes gave it a few milliseconds' advantage on the buzzer? Who even cares if it'd take it a second longer to read the clue via OCR? So what if Watson would be 5% faster or 10% slower, if conditions were slightly different? Moore's Law makes that level of difference utterly irrelevant - in 18 months time, Watson will be *100% faster* (or even today, if IBM just threw more hardware at it).

      Deep Blue vs Kasparov was fascinating at the time, but is uninteresting now for the same reason. A decent desktop PC can play at that level. And comparing human vs machine play styles is also largely pointless, in the same way that comparing birds and jets is pointless.

      The important part, by far, is that Watson parsed the questions, linked the clues and searched for statistically relevant answers in a human-like time. The amazing fact is, it can actually do it *at all*. Now that today's systems can do this sort of language parsing and information retrieval in a "reasonable" time, it will be increasingly trivial for tomorrow's. It is now all but inevitable that we will have Watson-like systems available to the public, in numerous fields, in corporations and on the web, in your PCs and even your game consoles, in a brief handful of years.

  • by Trip6 ( 1184883 ) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @01:07AM (#35228584) was us that scorched the sky...

  • by David Jao ( 2759 ) <> on Thursday February 17, 2011 @01:07AM (#35228586) Homepage
    Despite all the media hype, I for one am not at all impressed by this feat.

    Various media articles have made clear that Watson has no visual or auditory input. Presumably Watson is receiving a direct digital feed of the tournament questions (oops, answers, I forgot this is Jeopardy). That alone gives Watson a huge timing advantage over the human competitors, who must (effectively) perform voice recognition and OCR to process the clues. On top of that, Watson has the computer-controlled ability to buzz in in four milliseconds, again giving it a huge advantage over the humans, and one that has nothing to do with AI.

    Buzzer timing and strategy is a highly significant part of the game of Jeopardy. Given its direct digital feed and its internal computer clock, Watson is not playing this part of the game by the same rules as the humans. Thus, it's not fair to say that Watson wins a "Jeopardy" contest -- Watson has a huge unnatural advantage. In effect, Watson is not playing the same game as what we normally call "Jeopardy." A real Jeopardy contestant has to use eyes and ears and hands in addition to brain.

    To be clear, I do think Watson is a worthy achievement. But this feeling is overshadowed by my constant annoyance at the media and others who incorrectly label this achievement as somehow winning a game of Jeopardy.

    • by jfengel ( 409917 )

      Jeopardy does seem an odd demonstration here. The remarkable thing is not how well the bear dances, but that it dances at all. If it had taken 15 seconds to find the answer I'd have been just as impressed. An order of magnitude in performance is just a matter of waiting a few years.

      Certainly, it gets a lot more attention this way, which is presumably the point. But I'm not quite sure about attention for what, since it's not a product you can buy. I'm not aware of any productization plans.

      It's good mark

      • by qbwiz ( 87077 )

        Ken Jennings is getting $150000 (plus $150000 to his charity), while the producers of Jeopardy are getting a lot more viewers (and therefore a lot more advertising money).

      • by MoonBuggy ( 611105 ) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @01:54AM (#35228922) Journal

        It's good marketing for IBM in general, I suppose, but I'm not sure what Ken Jennings and Alex Trebek are getting out of it besides announcing their pending obsolescence.

        As another poster said, Jennings and the Jeopardy crew are making good money from this. As for IBM, they benefit in a few ways - firstly, the techniques learned in making the software will be very, very marketable, even if you don't see a box marked "Watson" on the shelf any time soon, and I'm sure the public challenge was a good way to keep the dev team motivated and enthusiastic. Secondly, the publicity; I know you realise that was part of their goal, but I think perhaps you underestimate just how successful it was - the general public are enthusiastically talking about what is essentially an IBM tech demo. I doubt most of the people I see discussing this would look twice at a more traditional story about some piece of random computer science research, even if it did happen to get a column somewhere on page 15 of a mass-media publication. The IBM name is becoming synonymous with AI, and it endures; people still talk about Deep Blue, and that was over a decade ago. A shiny superbowl ad that people talk about for a week is 'good marketing', and I think this goes many levels beyond that.

    • by ArtDent ( 83554 ) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @01:27AM (#35228716)

      Correction: competitors must perform voice recognition or OCR to process the clues. The clues are displayed and read, and the contestants are free to ignore either form, if they wish. Similarly, Watson could have had a camera trained on the monitor and performed OCR on the clue. But, given that OCR has been done brilliantly by computers for years now, would adding that into the mix have made much difference at all?

      Regarding ringing in, the contestants also get a signal indicating when they can do it, but it's visual. It would have been easy enough to add another camera trained on the light, but why bother?

      The engineers involved were trying to solve the interesting problems. Delivering input to each contestant in the most convenient form doesn't seem like much of a concession.

      • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @02:23AM (#35229124)

        They miss the real point: That a computer could do a level of natural language processing that was impossible before. They get caught up on bitching about how it wasn't "perfectly fair" or the computer "didn't act just like a human." No, it didn't it is a computer and that was never the point. The point was to try and develop a system that could process a natural language question and extract an accurate answer. It does this amazingly well, better than anything before by leaps and bounds.

        The choice of Jeopardy as a medium was for two reasons:

        1) It is a ready made challenging format. It is something that is not well suited for a computer or designed for it in any way, and there is a lot of data to work with. Made it a good choice as something to work on designing and testing for.

        2) It is a good exhibition/publicity chance. It is a way to show off the research, to generate interest in it. It brings it to the masses in a way they can understand. Some abstract talk about a computer in a lab that parses natural language means nothing. This shows a computer doing something pretty impressive against impressive humans. Really drives it home.

        Unfortunately people get all whiny and defensive about it because they feel this is somehow an attack on humanity. They want to find ways to justify that it wasn't "really a fair test" to prove to themselves that the computers haven't "won."

        That is just missing the point entirely. They never claimed Watson was a perfect human analogue (were that the case they would have gone for a rather different demonstration probably). They claimed it was an amazing data mining and parsing system, and they had a cool way to show that off.

        Personally, I think it is just amazing and represents a new stage in computer language processing.

  • The key to victory seemed more decided by buzzer speed than anything else. Even as the other players seemed to try to buzz in, regardless of answer, they just didn't have the split-second precision as Watson did in triggering his buzzer, time after time.

    Ryan Fenton

    • The key to victory seemed more decided by buzzer speed than anything else.

      This statement is true when there are three bags of meat playing instead of two. Anyone on the show has passed the test; the difference between winning and losing is mostly reaction time and resistance to pressure.

      • When IBM interviewed human champions, they learned that one of the critical tactics is hitting the buzzer before you "know" the answer, but when you believe that there is a good chance you'll get it during the few seconds you can take before you have to give it. I believe one of the write-ups about Watson says that the machine followed the same tactic, using a heuristic of some sort to decide early on in its search the probability that the search would be successful within a fixed amount of time.
        • That is incorrect: And of course, the best Jeopardy players sometimes ring in before they may have come up with the answer, if they have, dare I say it, a gut feeling or sense of intuition that theyâ(TM)ll be able to answer correctly, right? Watson canâ(TM)t do that, can it? Brown: The IBM Research team made a decision that we were not going to ring in unless Watson had already computed an answer with high-enough confidence. There are human players who may have an intuition that they
  • I wonder if this will cause a decline in the viewership/ratings of Jeopardy? ...out of some vague sense of "well, that game is solved/conquered (and we lost)"; nothing to see here, move along...
    • Right, because Deep Blue spanking Kasparov totally ruined chess for everyone else. ;)

      I'm pretty sure it won't be quite the same, but I'm sure they'll manage.

      • Right, because Deep Blue spanking Kasparov totally ruined chess for everyone else.

        Deep Blue didn't ruin chess for people who'd already spent their lives learning how to play it. The question is whether it has reduced the number of kids taking up the game?

  • OK, so Watson was kind of impressive, but this was really a buzzer buzzing contest and the other players didn't stand a chance. You could tell they probably knew as many answers as Watson did but couldn't ring in fast enough to answer. It just wasn't humanly possible. Given that Watson was fed the answers electronically as a text file instead of parsing Alex's reading or doing character recognition of the board, both of which are technically feasible, I think this was an unfair contest. I'd still go to
  • "In thirty years it will all fit in your pocket and cost $19.99."

    Only if Moore's Law continues unabated. <Sigh> We finally see progress in useful AI, natural language, self-navigating cars, robots in the home, etc, and now we're running into Moore's Wall.

    This is gonna be like the whole space thing again, isn't it? You build up my geek SF hopes and then stagnate for 40 years.


  • it would be more impressive if it used voice recognition to do the job. That's a product IBM could sell, starting with every insurance, cable and credit card company running one of those useless voice response systems. "I'm sorry, I didn't understand that. Did you want to take out a $10,000 cash advance at 28% interest or upgrade to the new super premium platinum preferred customer card? Press the pound key for 'Yes'."
  • Wrong answers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lev13than ( 581686 ) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @01:53AM (#35228916) Homepage

    I thought the wrong/skipped answers were much more illuminating than the right answers.

    For example, much has been made of Watson's "Toronto" answer to the US Cities question in Game 1. However, it wasn't a terrible answer because one of Toronto's airports is named after a war hero (Billy Bishop, the WWI fighter ace who shot down the Red Baron), and the main airport (Pearson) was named after a politician who was also a WWI veteran. Watson knew that Toronto wasn't in the US, the war was wrong and neither were named after a battle, but Toronto was the least wrong of all its options so that's what it chose. If this question had come up in the regular rounds Watson would have skipped (as happened occasionally). However, it needed to answer so it went with the best available option.

    Now, since Watson would certainly have had data on O'Hare, Midway and Chicago in its database, the problem was either in the question parsing or the search heuristics. One suspects that its weakness is the linking together of disparate data, and it's quite likely that humans will retain this edge for some time.

    • Re:Wrong answers (Score:5, Informative)

      by Schiphol ( 1168667 ) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @06:55AM (#35230248)
      An explanation [] of the Toronto gaffe by IBM.
    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      For example, much has been made of Watson's "Toronto" answer to the US Cities question in Game 1. However, it wasn't a terrible answer because one of Toronto's airports is named after a war hero (Billy Bishop, the WWI fighter ace who shot down the Red Baron), and the main airport (Pearson) was named after a politician who was also a WWI veteran.

      Watson should have information in its database that WWI is NOT WWII. WWII was mentioned twice in the clue. A dumb substring search for "WWI" as a string will bring u

  • by JTsyo ( 1338447 ) on Thursday February 17, 2011 @12:25PM (#35233116) Journal
    No one came back in time during the game to take out Watson. So we can reason that either time travel doesn't exists or that Watson doesn't end up being a problem for humanity's future. Guess the third option is that Watson was successful in eliminating all the humans.

Neutrinos have bad breadth.