IBM Watson Supercomputer vs. Man Jeopardy Showdown

February 16, 2011

10:25 pm

This past week, an afternoon showdown of sorts has been capturing all those who have been able to watch it. The IBM Watson supercomputer took the main stage of Jeopardy for a showdown against some of the top winners in the game’s history – Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings. The IBM Watson is named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson and was built by a team of IBM scientists who set out to accomplish a grand challenge – build a computing system that rivals a human’s ability to answer questions posed in natural language with speed, accuracy and confidence.

The supercomputer is made up of a cluster of ninety IBM Power 750 servers with a total of 2880 POWER7 processor cores and 16 Terabytes of RAM. Each Power 750 server uses a 3.5 GHz POWER7 eight core processor, with four threads per core. So it is rather powerful!

The Jeopardy showdown aired this week. The grand prize for this competition was $1 million, with second place earning $300,000, and third place earning $200,000. Rutter and Jennings donated 50 percent of their winnings to charity (VillageReach and Lancaster County Community Foundation), and IBM donated 100 percent of its winnings to charity (split between World Vision and World Community Grid). So really everybody wins. Well not exactly – but we’re not going to spoil the ending for you in case you haven’t seen it yet. Let’s just say that man still has a lot to learn.

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Photo: Flickr / Atomic Taco

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Frank Gruber is the cofounder, CEO and Executive Editor of Tech.Co (formerly Tech Cocktail). He is the author of the book, Startup Mixology, Tech Cocktail’s Guide to Building, Growing, and Celebrating Startup Success. He is also a startup advisor and investor to startups. Find Frank Gruber online and follow him on Twitter at @FrankGruber.

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