Arik Hesseldahl

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IBM "Jeopardy" Challenge Day One Ends in a Tie

Day one of the three-day battle between the human brain and silicon on the game show “Jeopardy” ended in a tie.

The IBM supercomputer and human player, Brad Rutter, each had $5,000 on the scoreboard, while Ken Jennings, who had bested Watson in the much-publicized practice match, ended with $2,000.

Watson missed some questions and in interesting ways. At one point Watson repeated a wrong answer, the “1920s,” which Jennings had just said. Host Alex Trebeck referred to these as “weird little moments.”

Watson sprang to a huge lead early. By the first commercial break, Watson had $5,200 to Rutter’s $1,000, and $200 for Jennings. It began a serious run interestingly enough after hitting the Daily Double and making a bet. This is interesting in that Watson, in the practice match which it ultimately lost, showed a weakness in situations where betting was called for. This was a weakness that Jennings exploited to his benefit. This made it a surprise when Watson threw down and bet $1,000, more than it had on the board at the time.

I asked Stephen Baker (pictured), author of the forthcoming book on the match, “Final Jeopardy,” to call me after the episode aired for a little color commentary from the point of view of someone who was in the studio to witness it. Our conversation, which I recorded on Google Voice, is below.

Steve Baker Talks about The IBM Jeopardy Challenge, Day 1 by ahess247

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik