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Computer contestant on "Jeopardy!" tied with human after first day

by Kelly MacNeil on February 15, 2011

A three-day "Jeopardy!" competition of man-versus-machine concluded its first night on February 14. So far, the machine is tied with one human and ahead of another, according to CNN International Edition.

Brad Rutter is ahead of Ken Jennings, both of whom are celebrated past Jeopardy! winners. IBM's Watson computer is tied with Rutter.

Watson, which appeared on the show as a computer screen with an avatar, "standing" between the two human contestants, has been in the works for at least three years, since IBM first proposed the idea of a machine contestant on the famous trivia game show.

Watson is the equivalent of 2,800 "powerful computers" and receives its information digitally. It can "neither hear nor see," according to game show host Alex Trebek, who introduced Watson to the audience at the beginning of the show.

This inability to hear would explain a small mistake made by the super computer during Game 1. Watson answered "What is 1920s?" to a question after his human competitor had already given the same answer.

Ken Jennings became famous in 2004 by winning 74 consecutive "Jeopardy!" games. Brad Rutter subsequently beat Jennings in 2005's "Jeopardy!" Ultimate Tournament of Champions.

The three-day game show will conclude on Wednesday, January 16, at which time a human or machine winner will be declared.

As technology advances exponentially, Time Magazine is featuring a report on the future of super computers. "2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal" looks at the increasing speed and future potential of computers and places a hypothesis on when computers may be able to outpace mankind.

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