IBM Jeopardy Challenge – Day 2

The first full game of Jeopardy is over, and Watson handily beat his fleshy opponents. He cleared the majority of the board as well as won both Daily Doubles. Though he lost the Final Jeopardy round, the final score was Ken with $4,800; Watson with $35,734; and Brad with $10,400.

And that Final Jeopardy challenge sure was interesting. The topic was U.S. cities and the clue:

Its largest airport was named for a World War II hero; its second for a World War II battle

Both Ken and Brad correctly answered Chicago, yet Watson strangely guessed Toronto. Building a Smarter Planet (an IBM-sponsored blog) has an explanation:

Watson, in his training phase, learned that categories only weakly suggest the kind of answer that is expected, and, therefore, the machine downgrades their significance.

Google “Toronto Airports” and you’ll find that Toronto has two airports significant to the Final Jeopardy clue: Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and Pearson International Airport — both named after World War veterans. Throw in the fact that Watson doesn’t place much emphasis on the category, and one can to see why he chose Toronto.

At the end of the day though, Watson bested our human champions. In an Esquire interview Ken says:

“Watson gives you only the tiniest window. […] And its buzzer reflexes will make me look like… What’s an example of someone with really bad reflexes?”

Compared to a servo? I’d have to say a thumb.

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