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Posted at 5:48 PM ET, 02/14/2011

For Jeopardy fans: The not-so-smart computer

By The Buzz bloggers
height
Nerds, meet Watson. (AP Photo/Jeopardy Productions, Inc.)

Update: What would you ask Ken Jennings, the "Jeopardy!" contestant trying to #stumpwatson? Send in your questions using the hash tag and we'll send them along to Jennings, who is participating in a 11 a.m. live chat.

IBM's Watson, the world's first computerized Jeopardy contestant, has ended round one of a historic man-vs.-machine tournament in a tie with one human player and substantially ahead the other.

Human player Brad Rutter and the supercomputer were tied at $5,000 last night -- the first night of a three-day game. The other challenger, human Ken Jennings, was in third place with $2,000.

Rutter (the show's all-time money-winner with $3.25 million) and Jennings (who has the longest winning streak at 74 games) are the most successful players in "Jeopardy!" history. Watson, named for IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, is powered by 10 racks of computer servers running the Linux operating system.

The winner of the exhibition tournament will collect $1 million. The games were taped at the IBM research center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., last month. Both men and Watson, so far, have kept the final outcome a secret.

Correct answers in the first round included: "What is a shoe?"

Does all this brilliance makes you feel dumb? Then we have a diversion: possibly the world's dumbest computer.

As you play along tonight and finally acknowledge that you've got zero chance of beating Ken Jennings or anyone/anything else on the show, hit the button on our "computer"and have a little fun generating some real D.C. answers.  (Short link: http://wapo.st/dumbcomputer).

Have some D.C. answers of your own?

Post them in the comments below, and you just might see them in the generator tonight.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.






Some #stumpwatson queries from inquisitive readers:

So, Ken, do you have a backup plan that just might involve slyly tripping on Watson's cord? #stumpwatson @washingtonpostless than a minute ago via Twitter for Android

@washingtonpost How does he feel about his third place finish last night? Is he worried? #stumpwatsonless than a minute ago via TweetDeck

@washingtonpost #stumpwatson do you think some questions or categories have been tailored with key words so Watson can more easily score?less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone

By The Buzz bloggers  | February 14, 2011; 5:48 PM ET
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Comments

Hated it will not watch show any more with machine on like baseball with computer ..screw that

Posted by: crrobin | February 14, 2011 11:06 PM | Report abuse

But crRobin, you are interested enough to read a story about a computer competing with people on Jeopardy.

I didn't watch it either, have know idea when it's on where I am, if I happen to catch it on, I'll watch for a little bit. Just to see how they are doing it. I wonder:

Does the computer hear Alex give the answer?

Does the computer see the answer on the board?

Does the computer have to control a robotic hand to push the buzzer to be called on.

What "voice" is the computer using?

Posted by: thomp | February 15, 2011 5:54 AM | Report abuse

Well, Thomp:

The computer cannot hear, so it gets the question electronically simultaneously with Alex's verbal answer.

Ditto for "seeing."

Watson does have to press an electronic button, just like the human players.

You'll have to actually watch to hear Watson's voice. AT times it sounded robotic, at others amazingly human.

At the start, Watson zoomed ahead of the human players, but apparently they realized that they'd have to buzz in immediately to beat him.

It was quite an interesting experiment, and although it was classic Trebek cheesy, I don't regret spending 30 minutes watching it.

Posted by: kbockl | February 15, 2011 8:14 AM | Report abuse

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