The Watson Cometh: Jeopardy! champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter are humanity’s last hope.
IBM’s super computer Watson will makes its long-awaited debut on the hit game show on Monday night, facing off against two of the show’s most successful contestants. In 2004, Jennings won 74 Jeopardy! games, earning more than $3 million in cash prizes. Rutter in 2000 became an undefeated champion before winning an unprecedented three Jeopardy! tournament titles: the 2001 Tournament of Champions, the Million Dollar Masters Tournament, and the Ultimate Tournament of Champions.
But both men face their toughest challenge ever this week: IBM’s Watson.
Top artificial intelligence researchers at IBM over the past four years have been preparing their mega-machine to compete on Jeopardy! The three-day match, which airs tonight, Tuesday and Wednesday, was taped in January. Nobody has yet revealed who won the anticipated showdown.
Jennings told ABC, “One of the first things I thought was, ‘This time, I’m not just playing to pay my mortgage or something, or to feed my kid’s college fund, I’m actually sort of representing 7 billion human beings against our new machine tyrants. That was a lot of responsibility. I didn’t want to let people down.”
Rutter said, “Ken and I are representing humanity in this thing but, at the same time, Watson was developed, built, programmed by human beings. So I think humanity wins no matter what happens.”
Tune in tonight and for the next two days to see whether we’ll be forced to announce “We, for one, welcome our new super-computer overlords” on Thursday.