Thursday, February 17, 2011

Jeopardy! The IBM challenge - Day 3 - Grand finale!

Tonight was the IBM challenge grand finale. With Rutter and Jenning "beaten to death" during day 2, the stake was high: would wetware have to concede the victory to hardware?

The first period was so-so: both human contestants made use of the 10-seconds delay allowed before answering when one presses the buzzer, and buzzed within a second of the end of the clue. In most of the cases, this proved enough to find the correct answer. Anyway, Watson managed to get some points there.

  • Watson: $4,200
  • Jennings: $3,400
  • Rutter: $2,400
 The second period started with Jennings and Watson almost tied. A few curious mistakes, as the "Dorothy Parker" instead of "Elements of style" in a daily double, which costed the supercomputer $2,197, which gave Jennings a temporary advantage.

It's also interesting to notice that some of the questions Watson passed had the correct answer among the three "most plausible" choices, albeit not the first one and usually with a very low score.

End of second period:
  • Watson: $4,800
  • Jennings: $8,600
  • Rutter: $2,400
The double jeopardy was a demonstration of the machine's superior ability when it comes to infer various pieces of a puzzle.

  • Watson: $23,400
  • Jennings: $18,200
  • Rutter: $5,600
And the final jeopardy. Everybody had still in mind the "US annexation of Toronto" of Tuesday, when Watson answered the double jeopardy question. The correct answer was Bram Stocker (famous for Dracula and a few other stories). All three contestants ended with the correct answer. Watson bet $17,943, a consequent wager that brought him way above Jennings.
  • Watson: $41,413
  • Jennings: $19,200
  • Rutter: $11,200

Congratulations to IBM and to the Watson team. This was a splendid demonstration and I bet many, many applications will emerge, probably not as fun as this one, but most likely as interesting.

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