IBM Watson Is More Important Than Valentine's Day

Wait. Before all the romantics in the audience start e-yelling at me, hear me out.

Yes, I recognize that Valentine’s Day can be important to a lot of people out there, even if it has become highly commercialized and it’s just one big cash grab from the chocolate, card, restaurant, floral, and jewelry industries. Yes, I recognize the importance of keeping the romance alive with your significant others. But IBM Watson is a freakin’ supercomputer and it’s going to compete on freakin’ Jeopardy!

This could be some rather unfortunate timing on the part of IBM, Sony, and Alex Trebek, but Watson’s appearance on Jeopardy! is scheduled for this coming Monday. That also happens to be February 14. Which also happens to be Valentine’s Day.

In case you forgot, IBM is also the company responsible for the Deep Blue super computer. That machine, way back in 1997, managed to win a six-game chess match against world champion Garry Kasparov, beating him two wins to one (with three draws). Jeopardy! represents an entirely different challenge, since IBM Watson has to first understand the natural language (Jeopardy! clues are filled with puns and other non-dictionary understandings) before it can even look up the appropriate response.

Check out this video that’ll give you a better idea of what Watson is all about.

Remember that Watson has no Internet connection and no human interference (aside from the initial coding and database, both of which are already finalized). It also has to activate the mechanical trigger to buzz in, just like its human counterparts. What makes this challenge even crazier is that Watson has to compete against Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter; the former holds the Jeopardy! record for longest streak and the latter holds the record for most money won on the show.

How will Watson do? Here’s a brief preview that was posted a few weeks back.


If your significant other also happens to geek out over quantum leaps in innovation like this, you’ll have no trouble convincing her (or him) to stay home on Monday night. Otherwise, maybe bumping dinner to Sunday is a healthy compromise?

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