He may have proven too tough a nut to crack for Jeopardy! champs Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, but Watson has yielded in the end to a human brain -- that of U.S. Rep. Rush Holt of New Jersey, five-time champion during the show's original run 35 years ago.
Earlier in February, Watson had turned up an impressive three-day performance on the quiz show Jeopardy!, scoring past some of the show's greatest contestants ever.
But Holt, who holds a doctorate in physics from the New York University and has been a leader of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, beat the celebrity IBM computer in a Jeopardy-style match between Congressmen and the computer at a Washington hotel on the night of Feb. 28, reports the Associated Press. The congressman was able to collect $8,600 in his round, compared to Watson's $6,200.
Holt later told the AP that he did not expect to top Watson's scores, though it was fun to beat the computer. A day later, in response to a hearty round of applause for his feat at a hearing of the House Natural Resources Committee, the Congressman called for neuron-based thinking, instead of semi-conductor thinking. He also hoped that such man-machine contests would help Americans appreciate the critical importance of math and science education.
Holt, however, is deeply impressed by IBM's creation and told CNN that the technology could prove to be very useful in circumstances that called for tough decision-making, especially in fields such as medical diagnosis, air traffic control or others that require piecing together bits of knowledge.