This week on "Jeopardy!," various champions of the popular television game show face off against the new IBM computer, Watson, which was developed to compete in human brain games. It's not a supercomputer, per se–some TV show hosts and bloggers have misidentified it as such–but it is a very interesting application of AI.
Over at PBS NewsHour, science correspondent Miles O'Brien did a fun piece where he challenged the machine to a "Jeopardy!" duel. The segment aired last night, and is embedded above (video link / transcript). As an aside, the piece includes often-Boinged personalities Marvin Minsky and Ray Kurzweil, and as a bonus, includes some wonderful old sci-fi film clips (can you ID them all?)
Below, watch Miles, Watson and David Gondek (one of Watson's creators at IBM) do battle over "unusual animal phobias, presidential tongue twisters and laundry detergent brand names." (video link). I don't want to spoil too much for you, but: Miles is a smart guy, and Watson pummeled him. It ends in a sad, sad zero on one of their scorecards.
If you've read this far, you'll also want to watch this NOVA feature on "The Smartest Machine on Earth." And you may want to revisit this excellent Boing Boing post last week from guestblogger Bob Harris on the science behind Watson's silicon brains.
Night two of the man-vs-machine challenge airs tonight on Jeopardy.