Last month, IBM and Jeopardy partnered together for a historical television game show event. Jeopardy invited 2 former champions, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, to compete against Watson, IBM’s artificial intelligence program. The contestants competed over 3 days in a traditional Jeopardy game format, but the real challenge was how Watson would perform.
IBM had already developed a software program to defeat a human opponent in chess. IBM computer scientists and engineers created Watson, an artificial intelligence software program, to explore the next frontier in artificial intelligence – the ability to understand and mimic human syntax and comprehension. The game show was the perfect format to test Watson’s capabilities because of the complexity of Jeopardy questions, which often include jargon.
Watson had no internet connection during the competition in order to level the playing field. Watson had to rely on its own internal database for answers. During the match, viewers at home were able to see Watson’s top 3 possible answers for each question, as well as each response’s probability and Watson’s overall confidence in answering the question. The final 3-day event results were nothing short of amazing. Watson’s final score was $77,147, defeating Jennings with $24,000 and Rutter with $21,600.
So what does this mean in the world of artificial intelligence? Watson’s processing power is crossing over into right brain thinking, the very essence of what makes us human. IBM hopes that in the very near future, the computing power of Watson will be used in medicine. Watson’s understanding of human syntax could be used to handle information like doctors’ notes within patient records, leading to breakthroughs in health care recommendations. This technology could lead to new leaps in strategy development and provide us with a deeper comprehension of human behavior. We look forward to the advances and benefits that continued research into artificial intelligence will bring.