Supercomputer 'Watson', built by International Business MAChines Corp, has defeated two contestants on the quiz show 'Jeopardy!' including champion Ken Jennings who had previously won a record 74 consecutive games, reports the Wall Street Journal. The 'MAChine versus Humans' battle was set-up as a practice match ahead of a formal competition that will air in February 2011.
In its first public outing, the computer system powered by 90 servers, answered a series of complex questions to eventually win by a considerable margin. The display echoed that of the IBM supercomputer 'Deep Blue' who in 1997 defeated the greatest living chess player Gary Kasparov at his own game. 'Watson' has been developed over the past four years by a team of researchers who set out to create a machine that could answer complex questions concerning puns and wordplay. For the television quiz show, Watson was loaded with millions of documents including anthologies, dictionaries and encyclopaedias with researchers developing algorithms to ensure the machine 'buzzed' in if it was confident of giving a correct answer.
The contest, which was held at a temporary 'Jeopardy!' set built at IBM's Research Lab in New York, finished within ten minutes and saw Watson score $4,400, Mr Jennings score $3,400 and another contestant Mr Rutter score $1,200.