IBM's Watson on 'Jeopardy': The machine has won
The machine has won.
Watson defeated the two biggest "Jeopardy" winners of all time: Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.
The IBM computer finished the final round of competition on Wednesday night with $77,147 in winnings over Jennings' $24,000 and Rutter's $21,600.
Jennings holds the record for number of consecutive Jeopardy matches won, with 74. Rutter has won more money than anyone else on Jeopardy.
The two men competed against each other in a 2005 tournament that resulted in a Rutter victory.
Since Watson won, IBM is awarded $1 million -- all of it going to charities World Vision (an anti-poverty group) and World Community Grid (which builds computer grids to address social issues such as water shortages).
Jennings, who won a $300,000 prize for second place, and Rutter, who was awarded $200,000, will each donate half their winnings to charities of their choosing.
The three-episode showdown, which began Monday, was filled with minutes of featurettes in which IBM engineers spoke about how they built Watson and how its question-answering technology could be tailored to its enterprise clients such as hospitals, transportation departments, help desks and law firms.
Academics have applauded IBM as having created a potentially breakthrough system to analyze unstructured data. And some readers, who left their comments on previous Technology Blog posts this week, complained about the three-day run, calling it essentially an infomercial for IBM.
Watson isn't the first IBM computer to defeat a human in competition. In 1997, the chess-playing IBM computer called Deep Blue beat champion Garry Kasparov.
Watson entered Wednesday night's finale with a $20,000 lead over Rutter and Jennings far behind, making Jennings' comeback for second place a bit of a surprise given that he was in last place during the first two episodes.
On Tuesday, Watson blew a Final Jeopardy question submitting "Toronto?????" in response to "Its largest airport is named for a World War II hero; its second largest, for a World War II battle." The correct answer was "What is Chicago?"
But on Wednesday night, Watson got the Final Jeopardy question right -- along with Jennings and Rutter.
Each of the three submitted "Who is Bram Stoker?" to the prod of "William Wilkinson’s 'An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia' inspired this author’s most famous novel."
Jennings, on his video screen below the words "Who is Stoker?" wrote “I for one welcome our new computer overlords."
During the credits, Jennings jokingly thrust his hands at the computer monitor that represented Watson in the competition as if to strangle a person by the neck.
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: Ken Jennings, left, and Brad Rutter, right, pose after the episode of "Jeopardy!" that aired Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011, when Watson, the IBM computer, beat the veteran champs with a total of $77, 147 over two exhibition matches. Credit: AP Photo/Jeopardy Productions Inc.