Last week, something amazing happened: a computer took on two human beings on a game of Jeopardy!–and won. Basically, here’s what happened: IBM designed a supercomputer paired with powerful algorithms that had the ability to interpret a question that was asked using normal grammatical syntax, sift through a large number of articles and books (and from sources like Wikipedia), and then finally find an answer to that question. Pretty amazing.
Watson, IBM’s Jeopardy! computer, doesn’t even look like a computer. Watson has a “face,” consisting of a screen that displays a constantly changing pattern based on Watson’s confidence when answering questions. Watson doesn’t require a human to run–the computer reads the same questions that are provided to the human players, and responds using a text-to-speech system. Watson is arguably more humanlike than any other computer ever created.