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Tonight’s the night! IBM’s Watson computer is going to take on two of the all-time greatest “Jeopardy” champions. “Jeopardy” has been on television since 1964. It was created by singer and talk show host Merv Griffin, who wrote that unforgettable Final Jeopardy jingle. It was Griffin’s wife who came up with the idea of giving contestants the answers and having them come up with the questions. Watson will compete against Ken Jennings, the all-time “Jeopardy” champ, whose winning streak lasted for six months and won him more than $2 million, and the runner up, Brad Rutter.

Washington Technology writes:

Watson is powered by 10 racks of IBM Power 750 servers, running Linux. It uses 15 terabytes of RAM and 2,880 processor cores.

To prepare for “Jeopardy!”, it has been loaded with a huge amount of information about books, movies, history, plays, music, current events, and the list goes on.

For some questions, one answer will have a high confidence level. This is when Watson is most likely to buzz in. For other questions, none of the answers will have a high confidence level and Watson will not buzz in.

“That’s the interesting thing,” McQueeney said. “The machine knows when it doesn’t know the answer.”

For each question, Watson evaluates information from about 200 million pages of content, or 1 million books.

Unlike Big Blue, Watson’s chess-playing brother, this challenge is about more than simple math. It’s more than simple information. “Jeopardy” questions involve puns and unexpected twists. Contestants must also evaluate their confidence levels with their bets on the Daily Doubles and Final Jeopardy. I love computers and am excited to see what the people who created and programmed Watson have accomplished. But I’m rooting for Ken and Brad.

Check out Slate Magazine’s piece on the most frequent Jeopardy categories.

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