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Computer to Challenge Champions on Jeopardy!
December 15, 2010

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"What is ratings bonanza for Jeopardy! the TV game show?"

That's the question for this answer: the likely result of a matchup of two of the show's most successful champions and a computer.

"Watson" is the name that has been given to the IBM computer that will take part in the competition. The computer is named after Thomas J. Watson, the founder of IBM. Programmers with the computer maker's artificial intelligence team have written special software for the purpose. The team was dubbed Deep QA, in a nod to Deep Blue, the computer that defeated Garry Kasparov, the world champion, at chess in 1997.

The human opponents will be none other than Ken Jennings (left), who won 74 games straight during 2004 and 2005, and Brad Rutter (right), who is the show's all-time winningest champion with just about $3.3 million in earnings. The three-contestant format means that Jennings and Rutter will appear as normal and "Watson" will appear as … a round avatar, according to Jeopardy! officials.

The shows will be taped relatively soon and will air February 14–16, 2011.

The winner gets $1 million. IBM says if "Watson" wins, all of the prize will go to charity. Jennings and Rutter, meanwhile, both say that they'll contribute half of their winnings to charity.

"Watson" has been road-tested, against other previous Jeopardy! champions. Neither the computer-maker or the TV show would comment further on that.

See a video of "Watson" here.

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