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

February 16, 2011 |  7:26 am

Watson Those "Jeopardy!" champs just got pwned: On Tuesday night's episode of the greatest man-versus-machine showdown in recent history, IBM super-computer Watson ended up with $35,734, trumping all-star champs Brad Rutter ($10,400) and Ken Jennings ($4,800).

From the very beginning, Watson tore off on a winning streak, beating the competition to the buzzer 24 out of 30 times, answering nearly every question correctly (it only stumbled on an art history question that Jennings and Rutter also missed) and even winning two Daily Doubles.

Its only massive blunder came during the Final Jeopardy question: "Its largest airport is named for a WWII hero. Its second largest for a WWII battle." The answer was Chicago, which Jennings and Rutter both knew. Watson chose "What is Toronto???" its extra question marks revealing an almost charming lack of confidence. (Poor Watson must've had trouble finding Toronto on a map of American cities.) But having only wagered less than $1,000, it still came out more than $25,000 ahead of Rutter. "Oh, you little sneak!" exclaimed host Alex Trebek.

Crafty, that little super-computer. On Wednesday, it will get its final chance to show if it's got enough mega-mind to school us all. We wonder what Watson would do with all that money. Maybe it could buy itself a Ms. Watson to cheer it on.

-- Melissa Maerz

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