'Jeopardy' to Air Man vs. Machine Challenge

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Jeopardy contestants Ken Jennings and Brad RutterJeopardy will have an unusual contestant next year - an IBM (IBM) computing system named "Watson."

Watson will take on the show's two most successful contestants, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter (pictured left to right), in February, according to the show's website.

IBM scientists built Watson to see if they could create a computing system that rivals human ability to answer questions posted in normal language. The Jeopardy format appealed because the game's clues involve subtle meanings, irony, riddles and other complexities that normally baffle computers.

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"After four years, our scientific team believes that Watson is ready for this challenge," said David Ferrucci, the scientist leading the IBM Research team that has created Watson.

Watson was named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson.

The computer faces stiff competition. Ken Jennings won 74 games in a row in the 2004-2005 season, accumulating prize-money of more than $2.5 million. Brad Rutter won the highest cumulative amount ever by a single player: $3.3 million.

The stakes are high in this game too. The grand prize is $1 million, with second place earning $300,000 and third place $200,000.

IBM will donate all its winnings to charity. Rutter and Jennings will donate 50% of their winnings.


Also See: Game Show Winners: What Happens After Money Rolls In


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