IBM Watson: Question Answering for Jeopardy

Jeopardy BoardFrom IBM Labs YouTube presence news of a IBM “Watson” System to Challenge Humans at Jeopardy! IBM’s Watson is a Question Answering system that IBM scientists hope “will be able to understand complex questions and answer with enough precision and speed to compete on Jeopardy!” (From the IBM press release.)

Watson will be designed to deftly handle semantics “the meanings behind words” which will enable it to answer questions that require the identification of relevant and irrelevant content, the interpretation of ambiguous expression and puns, the decomposition of questions into sub-questions, and the logical synthesis of final answers. In addition, Watson will compute a statistical confidence in the responses it provides. Watson will be designed to do all of this in a matter of seconds, which will enable it to compete against humans, who have the ability to know what they know in less than a second. (From Addendum: About IBM’s Watson System)

The language IBM uses around this project is that of a “Grand Challenge.” It is smart how they have taken a analytical problem and used Jeopardy to give a target for the research, both in terms of speed and the types of questioning handled. Jeopardy also gives them a dramatic venue to demonstrate their progress just as Deep Blue playing Kasparov did.

The research is based on a Open Architecture for Question Answering (OAQA) that was jointly developed with Carnegie Mellon.

One thought on “IBM Watson: Question Answering for Jeopardy”

  1. The test for intelligence proposed by Turing comprises an open domain question answering system that can fool a human into thinking that the system is human. Now Turing thought we would have such systems by 2000. If you look at Watson or Wolfram Alpha, you will see we are still far from that goal. But I think we will get there and these are the first steps.

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