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Watson wins 'Jeopardy!' finale; Ken Jennings welcomes 'our new computer overlords'

February 16, 2011 |  4:45 pm

Watson "Jeopardy!" has a new champion, and its name is Watson. During the Wednesday finale of the three-day "Jeopardy!" challenge that pitted all-stars Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter against an IBM-engineered supercomputer, the machine ultimately beat the men. Watson finished with $77,147, with Jennings coming in second with $24,000 and Brad Rutter last with $21,600.

The win is a publicity coup for IBM, which created Watson as part of its Great Mind Challenge series. The company hopes to sell Watson’s question-answering technology for use in hospitals and call center help desks. The last time IBM created a man-versus-machine challenge of this scale, it built Deep Blue, the chess-playing supercomputer that beat champ Garry Kasparov.

Watson had a huge advantage going into the final match, with a lead of more than $20,000 over Rutter, then in second place. Though it missed a Daily Double answer regarding "The Elements of Style," it showed its versatility later, buzzing in correctly on everything from "The Simpsons" to halter tops.

Watson also won Wednesday night’s Final Jeopardy round, offering the correct answer to a clue asking which author's most famous novel was inspired by William Wilkinson's "An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia." Watson, Jennings and Rutter all knew the answer was Bram Stoker.

Ken Jennings, ever a good sport, bowed to the new "Jeopardy!" champ. “I for one welcome our new computer overlords,” he wrote on his video screen, quoting an episode of “The Simpsons."

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'Jeopardy!' challenge, Day 2: Watson annihilates weak humans

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— Melissa Maerz

Photo: Ken Jennings, Watson and Brad Rutter on "Jeopardy!" Credit: Carol Kaelson / Associated Press.

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