First they take all of our jobs–now they’re appearing on our gameshows. A computerwill finally get a chance to appear on Jeopardy, when IBM’s Watson makes its debut on the popular game show in February. The computer will appear on three episodes, taking on two of the show’s biggest winner–Ken Jennings, who won $2.5 (playing in a record 74 consecutive games) and Brad Rutter, who pulled in 3.2 million.
The winner of the three-way contest will bring home $1 million. Rutter and Jennings will donate half of their winnings to charity, should they be victorious. If Watson wins, meanwhile, it will donate all of its profits.
There are a number of difficulties that Watson must overcome, in order to win, including an understanding of subtle language nuances like puns and riddles. IBMscientist David Ferrucci is confident in the computer’s abilities, however, stating, “After four years, our scientific team believes that Watson is ready for this challenge based on its ability to rapidly comprehend what the Jeopardy clue is asking, analyze the information it has access to, come up with precise answers, and develop an accurate confidence in its response.”
Watson was named for IBM founder Thomas J. Watson. Over the past few month, its programmers have been running it through 50 mock Jeopardy games.