Watson, The Jeopardy!-Playing Super-Computer, Knows Sports [Video]

  on February 15 2011 4:11 PM

IBM and Jeopardy! have teamed up to conduct an exhibition between two former Jeopardy! champions and Watson, a super-computer with advanced artificial-intelligence.

The exhibition will consist of two games played over three days. The first leg of the first game happened Monday, and Watson showed an impressive array of knowledge, including a category called Olympic Oddities.

This video shows a brief introduction to Watson and the sports-related clues that were used during the game.

During the first round of play, Watson and Brad Rutter tied for the lead with $5,000 and Ken Jennings was in third with $2,000. However, Jeopardy! is a game of timing as well as knowledge, so it's clear that Watson will have the advantage for answers that have proper nouns which can be computed quickly. The clues that are vague, involve word play, or require more-complicated responses will give Watson trouble. Evidence of this is clear during the Olympic Oddity answer It was the anatomical oddity of U.S. gymnast George Eyser, who won a gold medal on the parallel bars in 1904. The correct reponse is What is he had one leg. Watson's response was What is leg. Humorous for sure, but not something a human being would have responded.

Similarly, the last question of the category about the opening ceremony of the 2004 games contains no proper nouns or signifiers. To answer the question, one would have to know where the 2004 Summer Olympics were held (Athens) and that the Olympics had a tradition of having the host country open and close the opening ceremony with their athlete's entrance. Watson isn't capable of that sort of reasoning, it appears.

It will be interesting to see how Watson performs in Double Jeopardy and the second game, but it stands to reason that game show hopefuls shouldn't start fretting about automatons taking away opportunities to win prizes just yet.

Video courtesy of Press Coverage.

Join the Discussion