This video, recorded by Engadget, is of a filming of Jeopardy that has a unique twist. Two of Jeopardy’s greatest champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter are facing off against IBM’s Watson supercomputer. Watson is a natural language processing supercomputer, named after the founder of IBM, comprised of two racks of IBM Power7 System servers, runs Linux as its operating system, 15 terabytes of RAM, and 2,880 processor cores all acting in harmony in a clustered configuration. So what does all that mean? Well the human language is composed of subtlety and words that have more than one meaning. The complexity of a Jeopardy question becomes apparent when you begin to think of it in computers terms. Not only does the computer have to come up with the correct answer, it is able to analyze the answer itself: all the subtle hints, the emphasis in it’s delivery, the references, the whimsical phrasing, humor, and the criteria the answer is warranting. IBM says it uses over 100 algorithms to deal with these complexities and that it has fed Watson over 200 million pages of text to help it understand human language. When a question is asked it uses that data to analyze clues to figure out how the words relate to each other then it uses the algorithms to determine the most likely correct answer. It does all of this in a matter of seconds. Watson defeated the two human champions and didn’t get any answers wrong in the process. This kind of technology is amazing but it also helps me to appreciate the human brain.

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