View Full Version : Is Anybody Watching Watson on Jeopardy?

02-16-2011, 12:20 PM
The tournament on Jeopardy which pairs Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter against IBM computer Watson has been pretty interesting, with the final round to be played tonight. It's clear that the computer has a huge advantage, and it is because it simply can signal in faster than a human. If there is a situation where all three know the answer, I think Watson will get it every time. It takes a human a few milliseconds to bend the thumb and press the buzzer, while a computer signals in electronically. And that is a winning advantage. And of course its response last night in Final Jeopardy was a mystery.

02-16-2011, 01:10 PM
I agree that the computer has the info proccessing advantage. I'm a Jeopadry junkie and once had a best of 48 out of the 61 answers. It is very entertaining to watch and Watson certainly is an outstanding machine.

My personal nightmare is getting onto the show and having catagories like "Women's fashions","Polo terms","Poetry","hip-Hop music","Things that go through a cat's mind"


02-16-2011, 01:20 PM
I saw that last night and thought it was pretty amazing. As an owner of IBM, I was pulling for Watson. More impressive than the signal speed, I thought, was Watson's ability to process the most likely top three responses along with the percentage possibility of them being accurate - in less than a second :eek:

Was last night the first round or the second?

I hope the folks at Jeopardy are going to try to trip up Watson tonight, I was feeling sorry for those poor humans.

02-16-2011, 01:26 PM
Rawn- I know what you are saying. In the first round there was a category Beatles Names and I knew all five easily. But if the category were Hip Hop I wouldn't be able to answer even the most basic question. Everybody has topics they know nothing about (forget opera too, I'm a goner).

Tsaiko- it took them Monday and Tuesday to play a full game, as they spent a good deal of time giving the audience a behind the scenes look at the IBM facility, as well as the computer itself. Tonight is the last night and I'm guessing they will play a regular game.

Yet I found it amazing that in a Final Jeopardy of U.S. Cities, the computer responded Toronto. It would be most interesting to see how it derailed on it.

Certainly Watson has an incredible amount of information that it can process at the speed of light, but its ability to understand the questions, when words often have multiple meanings, is most impressive to me.

02-16-2011, 01:50 PM
Toronto really threw me. The wording puzzles are the hardest part to figure out and not the actual answers.


02-16-2011, 02:16 PM
Wow I haven't seen an episode for a decade or so, is Alex Trebec still the host ?

02-16-2011, 02:23 PM
Yes, Trebek is still the host. He's now in his early seventies.

02-16-2011, 03:49 PM
Yes, Trebek is still the host. He's now in his early seventies.

Wow that is nuts he's gonna give Bob Barker a run for his money if that is possible. A good trivia question would be 'How many questions has Alex Trebek asked on the show', of course I guess it would have to be when he is done but what a run for him.

02-16-2011, 06:33 PM
Watson won going away. At least I got Bram Stoker for Final Jeopardy.:)

02-16-2011, 06:48 PM
they spent a good deal of time giving the audience a behind the scenes look at the IBM facility, as well as the computer itself.

I'm sorry I missed that, what a great PR move for IBM.

02-17-2011, 04:54 AM
my big problem with this tournament was that since watson didnt interpret actual speech, the system fed him a txt file with that question as soon as alex stated reading the question - this was unfair to the humans as with the power of watson im sure it had calculated its answer before trebek was even half way done with reading the question - im pretty sure they knew this as well b/c when they were doing the behind the scenes stuff they quickly glossed over the synchronization issues and just stated how the computer got the questions

mark evans
02-18-2011, 06:55 PM
I agree that Watson had an unfair advantage with its ability to ring in before the other players, when all three knew the answers. Among three live players, one would expect that each would be successful in ringing in for approximately 1/3 of the clues in such circumstances. Yet, Watson rang in first virtually every time. Maybe a fairer test would be to remove, or at least reduce, the element of speed.

02-19-2011, 01:39 PM
That was my absolute first impression - that the computer had a mechanical advantage of speed ringing in. It seemed unfair because you could clearly tell that the other two both knew some answers and were unsuccessful in timing the buzzer. It definitely felt to me like it was enough of an advantage to affect the results.

So I dropped something off to my parents the first night and ended up sitting and watching with them. They are both about 80 and both were correctly impressed with Watson's overall ability to answer questions.

But ... hahaha. At one point Watson said, while picking a question, that he would "finish out the category". My dad was completely blown away by this. I explained some simple ways that Watson would be able to track which questions were done in a category. But with everything there was to be amazed by, my dad simply could not get past being impressed that he knew when there was only one answer left in a category.

My mom? She was by far most impressed that Watson was somehow able to answer in the form of a question.