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The Computers Are Winning

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In 1997, a cold, heartless machine named Deep Blue defeated a flesh-and-blood chessmaster by the name of Gary Kasparov. Fourteen years later, we're seeing fruits of Deep Blue's victory within a computer than can beat Ken Jennings at Jeopardy.

We're in a world of hurt when they master Battleship.

This week, Jeopardy producers hosted a trial run in preparation for a competition taking place in February. The matchup pitted Jeopardy champs Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter against an IBM computer named Watson. Although Watson's presence between Jennings and Rutter took the form of a cross between 2001's obelisk and HAL's glowing eye, the complete system was powered by 90 servers and 360 computer chips and took up an entire room.

Rather than scouring the web for an easy answer -- which Jeopardy terms deem cheating -- Watson has stored millions of documents spanning dictionaries, anthologies, and the World Book encyclopedia. It cross-references that information after each clue is read, and provides an answer based on the likelihood of it being correct. Sort of an "artificial confidence."

At the end of the ten-minute practice round, Watson was ahead with $4,400. Jennings and Rutter trailed with $3,400 and $1,200, respectively. None of the three contestants answered a question incorrectly.

Here's footage of the match:

Engadget also conducted an interview with IBM's David Gondek to get a better idea at how Watson works.

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