Jeopardy royalty Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter are back in the game after netting millions in winnings, and they're facing their toughest opponent yet — a computer. IBM's $1 million Watson computer is scheduled to compete against the duo in prime time next month, but in the first round of practice, the computer won. In fact, Watson didn't answer any questions incorrectly, though it did stay silent during one full category.
The computer itself aims to understand language as we speak it with all of its "subtleties, irony, and words with multiple meanings." Scientists loaded the computer with 200 million pages of text that it then analyzes to understand speech patterns. So to play Jeopardy, the computer processes each question and then using cues like keywording and "statistical paraphrasing" to come up with an answer. It will only ring in to answer if it reaches a percentage of certainty that it has the correct answer.
While the computer won the practice round beating Jennings by $1,000, none of the three contestants answered a question incorrectly.