A deep question answering system from IBM...


2011 IBM Challenge winner: $500,000 to World Vision + $500,000 to World Community Grid.

Watson is a computer system designed by IBM. It isn't connected to the Internet, so it can't look online for help. It rings in the same way human players do by pushing a button.

The system that powers Watson, comprising 10 racks each of 10 IBM Power 750 servers, takes up an entire server room. The system has a memory capacity of 15 trillion bytes. Watson's hardware is cooled by two large refrigerator units.

Watson's server room is located next door to the studio built for Watson to play in. To provide stage presence, IBM created an avatar to represent Watson, which is displayed on a flat-panel screen positioned vertically behind the podium. Based on IBM's "Smarter Planet" icon, the threads and thought rays that make up the avatar change color and speed depending on what's happening during the game. When Watson feels confident in an answer, the rays in the avatar turn green. They turn orange when Watson gets an answer wrong. The avatar speeds up and activates when Watson's algorithms are working hard to answer a clue.

A response panel displayed on-screen during the game shows the top three responses from among the thousands Watson generates for every clue, along with its confidence percentage for each, and a buzz threshold. If Watson's confidence isn't higher than the buzz threshold, it won't ring in.

For the exhibition match, Watson receives the clues electronically by text file the same instant they are revealed to the human players. Watson also electronically receives a signal the instant it may safely buzz in, at the same instant the signaling lights illuminate for the human players. Additionally, Watson receives the correct response electronically by text file for each clue once it has been given.

Watson's voice is synthesized from 2004 recordings made for IBM's text-to-speech project by actor/audiobook reader Jeff Woodman.

Watson appeared in the following 3 archived games:
#6088, aired 2011-02-16 Ken Jennings vs. Watson vs. Brad Rutter The IBM Challenge game 2.
#6087, aired 2011-02-15 Ken Jennings vs. Watson vs. Brad Rutter The IBM Challenge, continuation of game 1.
#6086, aired 2011-02-14 Ken Jennings vs. Watson vs. Brad Rutter The IBM Challenge game 1, Jeopardy! Round only.

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