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Play Jeopardy with IBM Watson at SC11

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Attendees at SC11 will have the opportunity to play Jeopardy with IBM's Watson computing system at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center, Seattle from 12-18 November.

Watson will be featured in a kiosk located on the 6th floor of the convention and trade centre, separate from the main IBM booth. The kiosk is a version of the full IBM Power Systems-based Watson system that competed on the game show. Watson represents a significant advance in a computer’s ability to understand context in human language – a technology with potential applications in such domains as medicine. As has been demonstrated in some well-publicised contests, man versus computer in a game of Jeopardy is not the mismatch one might imagine. Understanding the complexities of natural language, which comes naturally to humans, is an extraordinary challenge for computers.

Nonetheless, Watson’s ability to employ hundreds of algorithms simultaneously to process human language and rapidly retrieve answers from its massive database makes it a formidable competitor as Jeopardy champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter found out earlier this year when they took on the machine at IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Laboratory in Yorktown, New York.

The Watson kiosk will offer four topic areas to explore, allowing attendees to learn more about the technology, the Watson machine itself and next steps for the Watson system. The fourth of these areas is the Jeopardy game. Those who choose to compete against the machine will be able to see the probabilities Watson calculated in formulating answers. Just as in the television version, contestants will be able to choose a question category and dollar amount, though there will be no host, and contestants will be on their honour for scoring.