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What makes IBM Watson so smart?

Michael Cooney | Feb. 14, 2011
If you have seen any of the video of its preliminary bouts on "Jeopardy!" you know that IBM's Watson computer is pretty amazing. One of the main reasons, it turns out, is that IBM enlisted the intelligence of eight top universities to make sure Watson has superb question answering ability.

The system incorporates a number of proprietary technologies for the specialized demands of processing an enormous number of concurrent tasks and data while analyzing information in real time, IBM stated.

IBM has been prepping Watson for the show. The system played more than 50 "sparring games" against former "Jeopardy!" Tournament of Champions contestants and Watson has taken and passed the same "Jeopardy!" contestant test that humans take to qualify to play on the show.

Watson will compete against the show's two most prolific past winners -- Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. Jennings broke the "Jeopardy!" record for the most consecutive games played by winning 74 games in a row during the 2004-2005 season, resulting in winnings of more than $2.5 million. Rutter won the highest cumulative amount ever by a single "Jeopardy!" player, $3,255,102.

The grand prize for this competition will be $1 million with second place earning $300,000 and third place $200,000. Rutter and Jennings will donate 50 percent of their winnings to charity and IBM will donate 100 percent of its winnings to charity.


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