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Man made things can beat out man himself. If you’re saying no way, think again. IBM’s Watson just recently beat two very smart individuals that ever played the game of Jeopardy! Even though Thomas J. Watson, IBM’s first president was a very smart man. It wasn’t him playing the game. It was a computer system named after him that played Jeopardy and beat out Brad Butter, the all time most money maker on this hit TV show and Ken Jennings, the record holder for the longest champion ship streak of 75 days.

In February of 2011 as a test run of this extremely complex machine, Watson competed on the quiz show Jeopardy! In this shows special episode of human versus machine Watson beat humans. The computer repeatedly beat its human opponents in hitting the buzzer. It had some difficulty answering a few categories though. Especially the ones with short clues. It had access to over 200 million pages of categorized and uncategorized information that took up four terabytes of disk space. It didn’t have internet connection during the game. At the end of the game Watson received $1 Million as the first prize. While Ken Jennings received $300,000 and Rutter received $200,000 respectively. They all gave portions of their winnings to charities.

Watson, a question answering machine that was developed by IBM is built upon IBM’s DeepQA technology for generating hypothesis, gathering lots of evidence, self analyzing capabilities and to scoring points. Its design of analyzing complex questions under three seconds on Jeopardy! , was made possible by the massive POWER7 processors that are built into the system. It has a stunning 2880 POWER7 processor cores and its speed is made up of 16 terabytes of RAM. The software that is in Watson was written in many languages, of which some are Java, C++ and Prolog. The brains of Watson come from various resources from encyclopedias, dictionaries, thesaurus, articles and other written work. DBPedia, WordNet and Yago were very much used in the game.

Watson had some problems playing humans on the questions that had short clues. It might be extremely fast and have millions of pages of information stored in it but the human brain is much faster. Watson had to make sure that a response is correct before buzzing. Humans won in that battle.

IBM is looking to put Watson to good use. WellPoint, a major health care firm in US commited to a partnership with IBM to use Watson’s brains to help suggest treatment plans and help doctors diagnose patients in crunch time. IBM also wants to use Watson for telecom, finance, government and other important sectors in the world. Watson already has competition from Microsoft and GE who announced a healthcare partnership to make something similar and use it in the healthcare industry. At the end of the day, hopefully they all succeed in their plans. Both doctors and patients can get something good out of this battle of tech-brains.

For sure Watson can one day can beat criminal background check services, by mining data and displaying comprehensive information for someone. Really useful if you’re hiring!

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