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Jeopardy-Playing Supercomputer Beats Humans

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the only-tell-you-answers dept.

IBM 220

An anonymous reader writes "Ok, this was just a practice round. But in a short demonstration today IBM's Jeopardy-playing supercomputer, a whiz by the name of Watson, thoroughly bested two talented human contestants. IBM has been working on this artificial intelligence project for years to prove that a computer can be programmed to understand conversational speech and wordplay. In today's demo, Watson seems to have proved the point: it started out on a roll in the category 'Chicks Dig Me,' about women and archaeology. The real man versus machine face-off (in which the same contestants compete for a $1 million prize) will be taped tomorrow, and aired in February."

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First. (-1, Offtopic)

superdreamkilla (1975432) | more than 3 years ago | (#34866528)

.________________________________________________. %0d| ______________________________________._a,____ | Press contact: %0d| _______a_._______a_______aj#0s_____aWY!400.___ | Gary Niger %0d| __ad#7!!*P____a.d#0a____#!-_#0i___.#!__W#0#___ | gary_niger.eu %0d| _j#'_.00#,___4#dP_"#,__j#,__0#Wi___*00P!_"#L,_ | GNAA Corporate Headquarters %0d| _"#ga#9!01___"#01__40,_"4Lj#!_4#g_________"01_ | 143 Rolloffle Avenue %0d| ________"#,___*@`__-N#____`___-!^_____________ | Tarzana, California 91356 %0d| _________#1__________?________________________ | %0d| _________j1___________________________________ | All other inquiries: %0d| ____a,___jk_GAY_NIGGER_ASSOCIATION_OF_AMERICA_ | Enid Al-Punjabi %0d| ____!4yaa#l___________________________________ | enid_al_punjabi.eu %0d| ______-"!^____________________________________ | GNAA World Headquarters %0d` _______________________________________________' 160-0023 Japan Tokyo-to Shinjuku-ku Nishi-Shinjuku 3-20-2

Soon, no more call centers (1, Flamebait)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#34866580)

Probably already smarter than the average call center employee.

Re:Soon, no more call centers (4, Funny)

Carnivorous Vulgaris (1964964) | more than 3 years ago | (#34866630)

They will give the AI a heavy Indian accent, because it's what callers expect.

Re:Soon, no more call centers (1)

thisisauniqueid (825395) | more than 3 years ago | (#34866716)

And... cue Slumdog Millionaire jokes...

Re:Soon, no more call centers (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34866806)

I didn't rtfa, but from the summary I'm saying "huh? So what?"

All this thing needs to beat humans at Jeopardy is a huge database of phrases and a fast search engine. Sounds trivial to me.

Maybe I should RTFA...

Re:Soon, no more call centers (4, Interesting)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867000)

maybe you should RTFA.

the unique challenges it poses to its contestants: the breadth of topics; the puns, metaphors, and slang in the questions; the speed it takes to buzz and answer.

Speech processing that can deal with the context heavy language of Jeopardy is a pretty big test and I think means we're just a little bit closer to a general purpose natural language speech recognition system.

Re:Soon, no more call centers (3, Interesting)

coinreturn (617535) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867104)

Actually, it doesn't do any speech processing - it does text processing - a HUGE difference. This is a shortcoming in my opinion. It should have to process Alex's voice, not clear text, though I guess it could do OCR on the screen instead. I bet they didn't have any Audio or Video Daily Doubles. In the show, audio and video clues are not uncommon.

Re:Soon, no more call centers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34867090)

Jeopardy is not quite that simple. There are some questions where you need to understand the question at a deeper level, like the before-and-after categorys (i.e. Abraham Lincoln Towncar). I think the success or failure of Watson depends on the categories used. I also wonder if the robot fingers will beat Ken on the buzzer, he is a master at getting buzzed in first.

Re:Soon, no more call centers (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867246)

There are some questions where you need to understand the question at a deeper level, like the before-and-after categorys (i.e. Abraham Lincoln Towncar).

You must be thinking of Wheel of Fortune... While its not impossible to see a response like that in Jeopardy, it is much more commonly seen in the following time slot.

Re:Soon, no more call centers (2)

parliboy (233658) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867398)

Except that 1) Before And After is also a category on Jeopardy and 2) it was a category in run-throughs for Watson:

In a test tourney, Watson hit the bullseye on a question about clothing a young girl might wear on an operatic ship. The answer, pinafore, is also found in the title of the Gilbert & Sullivan opera H.M.S. Pinafore. And the computer was also successful with a before-and-after Jeopardy question about a candy bar and a Supreme Court justice, Baby Ruth Bader-Ginsberg. But earlier in its career, when asked, "What does a grasshopper eat?", it responded, "Kosher."

Source: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/storm/Jeopardy_A_Computer_Takes_on_Ken_Jennings_and_Brad_Rutter_.html [philly.com]

Re:Soon, no more call centers (1)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867822)

when asked, "What does a grasshopper eat?", it responded, "Kosher."

So it has a sense of humor as well! :D All it has to do is add, "I'll be here all week. Try the fish."

Re:Soon, no more call centers (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867112)

The article wouldn't be sufficient in laying out the challenges involved in doing this, though it does give one example of the early problems they ran into.

The problem isn't necessarily in finding the answers to a given set of criteria, it's interpreting the question to lay out the search criteria. I don't know if you've ever watched an episode of "Jeopardy", but obtaining the answers often requires decoding a pun or a riddle, not just "It's what you get when you multiply six times nine." or "He is buried in the largest of the Pyramids in Egypt."

I'd have been far more interested to see a list of the questions to see if any of them contained the usual misleading portions and/or puns.

Re:Soon, no more call centers (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867204)

It doesn't get access to a search engine, though. It needs to use pre-compiled repositories of information, all indexed in a way that makes identifying the right "Response" (remember the questions are answers) in the right amount of time.

That being said, a computer is almost certainly so much better at "hitting the buzzer" in the allowed window than a human, that it possesses a significant advantage from the start.

Re:Soon, no more call centers (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867480)

Hitting the buzzer quickly is only an advantage if you are correct. If you are incorrect, or don't have any response, you lose money. Therefore, the computer (like the humans) must first determine what the response should be, and how confident it is that the response is correct, before buzzing in. This can actually be a disadvantage to the computer, because a human may get a category that he considers himself an expert in and buzz in immediately for all the answers in that category, and then use the remaining time to actually come up with the question.

Re:Soon, no more call centers (2)

AchilleTalon (540925) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867626)

Yes, definitely, you should RTFA.

This is very exciting news and for now, forget replacement of call center peoples, this machine is composed of 2800 Power7 cores, which renders it very expensive compare to the typical call center person. But this accomplishement, is a major step in the AI field and open it to many many exciting applications in the future which is not now too far.

Re:Soon, no more call centers (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34866670)

Call center employees aren't allowed to be smart. They have scripts that they must follow. They're reduced to a very simple algorithm, executed by human beings only because there are still people who prefer talking to a other people over interacting with a machine, and because speech recognition software is still not ready to deal with what some people call speech.

Re:Soon, no more call centers (4, Interesting)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34866830)

I worked Comcast call center for a while in '09. No scripts at all, when I started work and asked for something to follow, to figure out what I was expected to say, I was told with a smile "we don't do any scripts here, good luck!".

The only guideline I had was "Get their name and phone number, don't trust the system to give you an accurate phone number."

Re:Soon, no more call centers (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867050)

and because speech recognition software is still not ready to deal with what some people call speech.

That's the least of SR's problems; I have trouble understanding anybody from the NE seaboard. I played around with Win 7's speech recognition when I had that netbook, and I was impressed -- when the room was quiet. If a car went by outside it messed up, let alone having a radio or a TV on.

Its biggest problem is its lack of humans' ease with which we pick out a single voice in a roomful of conversational babble.

Verizon, Fedex already there (1)

tekrat (242117) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867634)

Have you called Verzion or Fedex services lately? They are both english language processing menu driven systems. Of course, the most used response from their system is 'Sorry, I didn't quite get that...'

Of course the fact the Verizon now even has a system for you to pay your bill without even speaking to a human is pretty impressive. Too bad their billing system itself is still in the dark ages.

Re:Soon, no more call centers (1)

splerdu (187709) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867644)

You forgot it's also probably a LOT more expensive than the average call center employee.

Summary typo; Missing stuff (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34866594)

  "But in short a demonstration today IBM's Jeopardy-playing supercomputer, a whiz by the name of Watson, thoroughly bested two talented human contestants."
 
should be either:
 
  "But in short: In a demonstration today involving IBM's Jeopardy-playing supercomputer, a whiz by the name of Watson thoroughly bested two talented human contestants."
 
or
 
  "But in a short demonstration today IBM's Jeopardy-playing supercomputer, a whiz by the name of Watson, thoroughly bested two talented human contestants."

Re:Summary typo; Missing stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34867614)

Actually if you want to be a grammar nazi you don't start sentences with a conjunction secondly it would be "But in a short demonstration today," as that is an introductory clause.

"The pod bay doors cannot be opened." (5, Funny)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#34866598)

"What is the mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it?"

Re:"The pod bay doors cannot be opened." (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34867012)

"You will be baked, and then there will be cake."

What? They didn't even videotape the demo? (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 3 years ago | (#34866656)

That's truly disappointing... it could have been interesting to watch.

Re:What? They didn't even videotape the demo? (1)

jsjacob (94841) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867292)

That's truly disappointing... it could have been interesting to watch.

It was a dress rehearsal, of sorts. The real matches will be broadcast in February.

Scary Precedent (1)

TiggertheMad (556308) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867530)

That's truly disappointing... it could have been interesting to watch.

It was a short taping. At the start of the show, when the host was introducing everyone, the techs hooked up a pair of speakers so the computer could vocalize its responses. The first thing the computer asked the host was, 'Do you want to play a game?', and then the pulled the plug on the computer.

Now to use it to win the lottery (0)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34866660)

Now that Watson has mastered Jeopardy, let's just see how well it does picking winning Powerball numbers. Or, it could just write my thesis paper and all my applications.

Re:Now to use it to win the lottery (1)

DeadlyMind (1865616) | more than 3 years ago | (#34866736)

Now that Watson has mastered Jeopardy, let's just see how well it does picking winning Powerball numbers.

These aren't even close to the same thing.

Re:Now to use it to win the lottery (2)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867058)

Really?

Quiz shows are designed with a targeted IQ in mind.

The people who write and select the questions know the percentages of how many people in their player population will know the answer.

Winning the game is dependent on the random distribution of the selected set of questions falling within the percentage of things you know.

Which means that it's not just as skill or talent game. You also have to be asked the right questions, and since you don't control that, it's luck.

Re:Now to use it to win the lottery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34867042)

I'd rather have it tell me the location of the next Golden Ticket.

Re:Now to use it to win the lottery (2)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867048)

Just buy some of those "how to win the lottery" books, and program in those rules. You should be able to win every single one. Once you determine the winnig number, make sure you buy hundreds of winning tickets! Mortgage your house so you can buy as many as possible!

They may beat Jeopardy (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34866666)

But Wheel of Fortune is the game that takes real skill.

Re:They may beat Jeopardy (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867074)

Not for a computer. You could just load it up with statistical data about letter correlation and famous quotes and phrases. Then spend a few seconds parsing through it. Sure you wouldn't likely have a computer be able to answer a puzzle with only 1 letter, but it's a lot easier to computerize the solution than Jeopardy with its word play and cheeky answers.

Re:They may beat Jeopardy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34867182)

You also have to convert your winning pot into fabulous prizes and you can't just put it all on a gift certificate. And you have to do this visually and verbally.

A Rising Tide (3, Insightful)

bughunter (10093) | more than 3 years ago | (#34866682)

Best quote from the article:

Jennings says it’s worth noting that humans built the thing. Whoever wins, we win.

Truly. Although it sounds threatening to some, the practical applications of the natural language parsing technology will ultimately benefit everyone.

Until, that is, you dial your bank's customer service number from a noisy restaurant, and try to talk to Watson to ask him why your Visa was denied.

(Rutter's quote was a nifty Skynet allusion, but its syntax was mangled by the reporter/editor, so it comes in second best.)

Re:A Rising Tide (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34866744)

Best quote from the article:

Jennings says it’s worth noting that humans built the thing. Whoever wins, we win.

I bet that is what they said 5 minutes before Skynet went online.

Re:A Rising Tide (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#34866956)

Until, that is, you dial your bank's customer service number from a noisy restaurant, and try to talk to Watson to ask him why your Visa was denied.

Don't worry, they will program it with their best indian accent, using the latest translations: Think "my hovercraft is full of eels" in a heavy Indian accent.

Re:A Rising Tide (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34866968)

Jennings says it’s worth noting that humans built the thing. Whoever wins, we win.

I'll inform Skynet. It will want to know that if it wins we all win.

Re:A Rising Tide (1)

Trent Hawkins (1093109) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867284)

I don't see how it's any better or worse to talk to a human.

Re:A Rising Tide (1)

Have Brain Will Rent (1031664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867388)

Yes it wouldn't be too hard to find answers, and choose questions carefully, so that the computer wouldn't have much chance of winning, such as:

Category: "Women moaning"
Answer: "When a man does this with his hand."

*duck*

Re:A Rising Tide (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34867570)

Are you making a "washing the dishes" motion?

Re:A Rising Tide (1)

scharkalvin (72228) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867558)

Ken Jennings is a software engineer. What else WOULD he say?

IBM == NAZIS (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34866720)

This should make IBM's next "final solution" MUCH more efficient than the last one!

So what this is saying... (3, Funny)

TheL0ser (1955440) | more than 3 years ago | (#34866786)

So the AI triumphed, and they're calling it a huge success? I wonder how the programmers feel about this. Pretty satisfied, I'd imagine.

Re:So what this is saying... (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867114)

Now they need to be able to ask the question, instead of the answer. Maybe they could make it available on the internet. Call it something like a "search engine", and give it a goofy name, like "google", and sell advertising. They could make hundreds!

Re:So what this is saying... (1)

c00rdb (945666) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867840)

Only downside is that we'll have to start phrasing our searches in the form of an answer.

Re:So what this is saying... (2)

Imagix (695350) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867404)

"triumph". Did they make a note of their "huge sucess". Find it hard to overstate their satisfaction?

One day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34866800)

Looking forward to a Jeopardy match between Watson, Skynet and Hal 9000.

Re:One day (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867160)

You missed GLADoS.

Re:One day (1)

2names (531755) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867610)

Marvin would decimate them all.

Re:One day (1)

2names (531755) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867646)

But he wouldn't enjoy it.

HUGE amount of secrecy surrounding this (4, Interesting)

Faizdog (243703) | more than 3 years ago | (#34866864)

So my neighbor works at the IBM facility where this is taking place, but in a completely unrelated function(it's a huge complex with a lot of people). He said that everyone is taking a forced day off on Friday when they will be taping the actual show. There's only going to be a small amount of the very top IBM brass there (supposedly even the head of this facility won't be allowed in). And that this is a HUGE secrecy issue (I'm guessing so that the results aren't leaked before the broadcast date).

My neighbor works with semiconductors and so works with a lot of dangerous chemicals and stuff. According to him, they've all been told to make sure that all their hazardous materials have been safely stored, and that (I have trouble believing this) even the IBM emergency response/hazmat teams have been told that they aren't allowed onsite and not to respond to any alarms that may be issued. That's a fairly dangerous decision if true, I'm doubtful but my neighbor stands by his statement.

Anyhoo, this is a pretty big deal apparently. More so from the Jeapordy people's end I'd guess since I don't think IBM has anything related to this project that they'd be that paranoid about keeping secret.

Re:HUGE amount of secrecy surrounding this (3, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867108)

The local fire warden won't care about their secrecy if he gets alerted to a hazmat issue.

Re:HUGE amount of secrecy surrounding this (1)

TiggertheMad (556308) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867660)

hmmm, more to the point, if they have an alarm, and the proper authorities aren't involved because of management decisions, that opens up the company for huge liability suits if there are any injuries or dumps/spills/venting/etc. I find this hard to believe that the legal department would allow this...

Re:HUGE amount of secrecy surrounding this (1)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867720)

Ok. If you say so!

I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34866884)

I for one welcome our new computerized Jeopardy!-playing overlords.

When do they get the question? (5, Interesting)

SeattleGameboy (641456) | more than 3 years ago | (#34866888)

In the article, they mention that the computer gets the question as text. Does anyone know exactly when the computer receives the question? Does it receive when the human host starts talking or when the human host completes the question? If it is when the host starts speaking, the computer is getting at least several second head-start on the humans.

Re:When do they get the question? (2)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#34866988)

In the article, they mention that the computer gets the question as text.

Well that's cheating. With all the work that went into the natural language processing here, would it have been so hard to slap an OCR module in there?

Re:When do they get the question? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34867080)

The computer should have the clue read to it, and be forced to process the sounds, just as humans do.

Re:When do they get the question? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867100)

Don't the humans get to read the question on screen too? It would be easier to OCR it and ignore the audio.

Re:When do they get the question? (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867170)

Do both, to double-check. It's got more than enough processing power to.

Re:When do they get the question? (1)

Ron Bennett (14590) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867418)

TV is all about ratings so the producers going to make darn sure the results / appearance is exactly what they, and, presumably, IBM, is seeking.

What many people don't realize is that reality shows (Operation Repo comes to mind), news, and even documentaries are all considered "entertainment" - heavily edited, dramatizations, staged scenes, and some outright fiction tossed in.

Personally, the Jeopardy supercomputer challenge doesn't impress me in the age of low cost mass storage.

What that said, a more interesting challenge would be Google against the contestants - I'd wager Google could do as well, if not better, than IBM's supercomputer; probably supplied them the data anyways.

Ron

Re:When do they get the question? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34867746)

Personally, the Jeopardy supercomputer challenge doesn't impress me in the age of low cost mass storage.

It seems like you have either a poor understanding of the kinds of clues Jeopardy supplies (which often require quite a bit of cleverness in addition to regurgitating information), or a poor understanding of the difficulties of natural language processing.

WHAT? SPEAK UP (1)

TiggertheMad (556308) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867698)

its only cheating if the official Jepoardy rules dictate that hearing impaired contestants must remove hearing aids.

Re:When do they get the question? (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867002)

One would presume they type the question in as it is being read or slightly before and when Trebek stops talking, they hit the Enter key (or Execute key or Engage key or whatever key they have).

Of course, they could always type the question as it is being read and as it is being done, the processing takes place. That is the same thing that humans do. As the question is read your brain is already processing.

Also, unless I'm mistaken, one doesn't have to wait for the entire question to be read. You can jump in early if you think you know the answer.

Re:When do they get the question? (2)

WMD_88 (843388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867186)

Also, unless I'm mistaken, one doesn't have to wait for the entire question to be read. You can jump in early if you think you know the answer.

You're mistaken. The clickers to ring in are shut off until Trebek is finished reading out loud. (Jeopardy was probably the first quiz game to do it this way.)

Re:When do they get the question? (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867352)

Thanks. I couldn't remember how it was done since I haven't watched the show in a very long time (many, many years). I thought at one time it could be done because I have recollections of people jumping in and trying to answer the question, getting it wrong, and Trebek telling the remaining two people the rest of the question.

Obviously not.

Re:When do they get the question? (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867230)

One would presume they type the question in as it is being read or slightly before and when Trebek stops talking, t\

Trrreeeebbbbeeek!!!!'

Re:When do they get the question? (1)

PRMan (959735) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867254)

You're mistaken. There's a reason why everyone is mashing the buttons like a pogo-stick. They don't work until someone verifies that the question is complete.

Re:When do they get the question? (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867578)

And furthermore, if you jump the gun there is a delay until your button is re-enabled. That is the real reason for the wild mashing - you jumped the gun, and now your button is disabled, so just keep hitting it til it comes back on.

Re:When do they get the question? (2)

HarvardAce (771954) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867694)

Also, unless I'm mistaken, one doesn't have to wait for the entire question to be read. You can jump in early if you think you know the answer.

You are mistaken. You cannot buzz in until Trebek has finished reading the question. One of the reasons that Ken Jennings was so successful is because he had the timing down perfectly such that he was reliably the first one to buzz in when he knew the answer.

Re:When do they get the question? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867010)

Yeah I saw that too. And wtf? I thought that understanding spoken language was part of the game. If it's just understanding question syntax, that's not so impressive.

Re:When do they get the question? (1)

Tuan121 (1715852) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867192)

The supposedly impressive feat is not understanding _spoken_ language but being able to understand a written question that is full with puns and are not usually direct questions. So it's not just as simple as looking for keywords in the questions.

Re:When do they get the question? (5, Informative)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867128)

The humans also get the question as text, at the exact same moment Watson does. That's the way it's always worked on Jeopardy!. They see the question as text the same you do when you watch the show on TV. The best competitors read well a head of Trebek and have an answer ready the instant they're allowed to buzz in, which as after Trebek finishes reading the question. Watson has the exact same advantages and disadvantages as any contestant, except that he can read the text basically instantly.

Re:When do they get the question? (1)

Samalie (1016193) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867138)

The computer gets the "answer" at the same time it appears on screen for the humans to be able to read it.

Re:When do they get the question? (2)

bughunter (10093) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867238)

In the article, they mention that the computer gets the question as text. Does anyone know exactly when the computer receives the question?

Well, remember this is Jeopardy, so the contestants receive the 'answer,' and must supply the 'question.'

And in the interest of even-handedness, I suspect that Watson is provided the text version of the 'answer' at the same time that the text of the 'answer' is revealed to the human contestants.

When I watch Jeopardy, I seldom wait to hear Trebek read the 'answer' aloud before I start figuring out the 'question.' It's available on the screen as text, and I can read much faster than Trebek speaks. (And I assume this is a key players' strategy in the live game, too.)

I just wonder how this all works for those "video answers" provided by the blonde cutie or the academic-looking bro...

Re:When do they get the question? (2)

FrootLoops (1817694) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867282)

Humans don't have to listen to Trebek; they can read ahead if they want. TBH he reads pretty slowly and if you can tune him out you might be at an advantage. A computer might be able to "read" faster than a human, but I don't see that as unfair.

Word play (2)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867004)

The ability to handle Jeopardy's style of word play is very impressive. I have to wonder if Watson can handle it in all the varieties that is is used on the show and whether the categories are cherry picked to match its abilities. Ideally the writers won't know that their answers are going to be used for the big game and the categories will be picked at random from a pool (minus audio and video clues).

Re:Word play (1)

bughunter (10093) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867470)

That's an interesting point, and I believe it came up in prior threads on this topic.

Jeopardy's 'answers' generally include a clue to help the player intuitively confirm that his/her response is accurate. Does Watson algorithm use these, or does it just 'brute force' the lookup in its vast memory?

Re:Word play (1)

FrootLoops (1817694) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867488)

Watson handling certain wordplay would really impress me. For instance take "What is the Grapes of Khan's Wrath" answering "The Jodes leave Oklahoma and meet up with villain Ricardo Montelban's character in this novel movie". That would just be awful to automate, I imagine.

Re:Word play (1)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867770)

The word play is only word play because we comprehend it as that. For the computer it's a matter of finding the meaning of the question at hand without being influenced by whether it's written as expected.

Mashup time? (1)

cant_get_a_good_nick (172131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867016)

For some reason I keep on thinking this calls for a remix of 'I Lost on Jeopardy", but now with with AutoTune.

Re:Mashup time? (1)

alphax45 (675119) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867116)

I hate you - now I have that stuck in my head!

Re:Mashup time? (1)

bughunter (10093) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867584)

I hate you - now I have that stuck in my head!

Baby! OOOOOOooOOoooooh!

Buzz in Times (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867142)

Does anybody know about what they are doing regarding, 'buzzing in,' to answer the question? It seems like a computer, inherently, has a massive advantage on this front as it can simply send a (by human perception) instant signal to trigger a buzzer once it detects the end of the question. Did IBM program it not to buzz in until it knows the answer? Is there some sort of in-built lag to the system to mimic human reaction? It seems like a computer operating on clock cycles of, I assume, milliseconds or less could beat humans simply by buzzing in first each time and post processing the question immediately once it gets called on. Has anybody heard anything regarding this?

Re:Buzz in Times (2)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867262)

Watson only buzzes in when he is confident that he knows the answer, which is apparently about 50% of the time. Of the 50% that he does buzz in, he answers correctly 80-90% of the time. If how the measure the confidence is accurate (and doesn't produce a lot of false negatives) it's likely that Watson would end the game in the red if he just buzzed in every time before he was sure of the answer. And according to the article, Watson has to physically push the button on the buzzer to buzz in. That probably doesn't delay him by much, but you're already talking about man vs machine when it comes to answering the questions, you might as well say that the humans have an unfair advantage because they speak English fluently.

Re:Buzz in Times (1)

bughunter (10093) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867280)

TFA sez that Watson must trigger a mechanical switch to buzz in. But yea, this is a trivial engineering problem, and Watson still has an advantage in reaction time.

I know this is /., but read TFA, it will answer most of those questions.

Re:Buzz in Times (1)

Whatsisname (891214) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867308)

Human players are allowed to do that, and if they fail to come up with the answer after buzzing, they get penalized. Same thing could be true for the machine.

Re:Buzz in Times (1)

TheL0ser (1955440) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867690)

But to a human the 5 seconds or whatever it happens to be (been years since I've watched Jeopardy) isn't much. Watson can go through a lot of possibilities in five seconds, or even just four and give the answers at the last moment.

skynet is coming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34867194)

haha told ya' skynet is coming fast

how to win the powerball [waystowint...erball.com]

It's all fun and games, until (1)

supremebob (574732) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867242)

Watson becomes self-aware on August 29th, and the IBM engineers panic and try to pull the plug...

Easy win with any non English questions (1)

sloomis (1326535) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867290)

From the article

"it doesn’t understand foreign languages yet"

"Ferrucci is keeping his cards close to the vest before the big match, refusing to reveal too much about his prize quiz-fighter, like which categories might be his weakest"

Cue the following categories for Double Jeopardy; Middle English, French, Latin, etc

Rough... (1)

Stregano (1285764) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867428)

...just the way your mother likes it Trebek.

Sean Connery, that is not in the R's (1)

Stregano (1285764) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867446)

Not in the R's. That is not what your mother said last night Trebek.

Imagine that! (1)

joeyblades (785896) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867486)

A supercomputer is faster/better at recalling facts from it's database than humans can from memory? Who woulda thunk it?

Voice (1)

demonbug (309515) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867494)

FTA: "Watson spoke in a stilted computerized voice–and was almost never wrong."

I'm still hoping they'll sneak a Scottish accent in there at the last minute. And maybe a joke about a mallard.

Correct category title (1)

starless (60879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867622)

The category was "Chicks dig it", nor "Chicks dig me".
Perhaps the editor was too optimistic here?

The answer is ... "42" (1)

RevWaldo (1186281) | more than 3 years ago | (#34867740)

Anyone? Anyone? (beedle-deet!) Watson!

.
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