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2011-02-17
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Watson Defeats Humans

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Tagged As: AI and Machine Learning

We've been waiting for the Jeopardy Deathmatch between humans Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter against IBM's Watson for awhile now. The past three days of Jeopardy revealed a glimpse of the coming human enslavement during the machine apocalypse. IBM's Watson soundly beat humanity by a $50K margin with the previous champions Jennings and Rutter coming in at $24K and $21K respectively. Watson's performance was interesting to watch, the interface allowed viewers to see its three answers deemed most likely along with a scoring threshold upon which it decided which was best and whether to click in. The system was not without its glitches as it answered a question incorrectly using the same wrong answer that Jennings had provided just seconds before. AI glitches like this in the future are likely the leading candidates for a cataclysmic machine apocalypse.

So how did Watson do it? Just like the players, Watson could rely only on "knowledge" stored locally, there was no access to external information during competition. IBM's senior systems architect describes the hardware as, "a massively parallel system based on the IBM POWER7 750 in a standard rack mounted configuration. This is enclosed in ten racks including the servers, networking, shared disk system, and cluster controllers. These ninety POWER 750 servers have four POWER7 processors, each with eight cores. IBM Watson has a total of 2880 POWER7 cores." All in all, Watson has 16 Terabytes of memory, and 4 Terabytes of clustered storage and can run AIX, IBM I and Linux (SUSE was used for the competition).

Despite their machine's victory, IBM declared that ultimately its humans that win as they will be the beneficiaries of Watson's technological AI breakthroughs.



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