Man vs. Machine

It was major news 15 years ago when the IBM computer Deep Blue beat the world champion of chess, Garry Kasparov.  It was an impressive feat of computing.  The computer had to be able to look many moves ahead and this involves a huge amount of computation.

But, of course, there are other things (like Jeopardy) which involve a wide range of knowledge, skill at wordplay, and being able to understand spoken questions.  All things that a computer can’t just brute force compute its way through.  Just ask Dr. Petrov how well computers understand him over the phone :-).

This week that may change.  A new IBM computer called Watson will be playing Jeopardy on TV against two of the best Jeopardy players of all time:  Brad Rutter, the current biggest all-time money winner on Jeopardy!, and Ken Jennings, the record holder for the longest championship streak.

The three held a practice round last month and things aren’t looking good for humans:

There are some who think Watson may be a sign of the impending Singularity.  Maybe IBM should have called the computer Skynet?