IBM supercomputer “Watson” in News
Recent update is that IBM supercomputer “Watson” has emerged victorious against its human competition in a three-day competition between the massively intelligent machine and two of Jeopardy‘s greatest champions: Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.Jeopardy! is an quiz show featuring trivia in history, literature, the arts, pop culture, science, sports, geography, wordplay, and more. The show has a unique answer-and-question format in which contestants are presented with clues in the form of answers, and must phrase their responses in question form.
Watson is made up of ten racks of IBM POWER 750 servers running Linux, and has 15Terabytes of RAM; 2,880 3.55GHz POWER7 processor cores and operates at 80 Teraflops.Watson isn’t just an ordinary supercomputer though crunching linear equations, the Linpack Benchmark, at ever faster speeds. IBM has been working on Watson for almost four years on solving the problem of ‘understanding’ natural language question
IBM super computer Watson came away victorious during Jeopardy Wednesday, but not before the game show’s former champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter rallied a formidable defense. In the end, however, the humans were no match for Watson, which won with a commanding lead of $77,147 after three days of Jeopardy play. Jennings took second place at $24,000 and Rutter was third with $21,600.To construct Watson, IBM used 200 million pages of content stored on 4 terabytes of disk space, as much as 16 terabytes of memory (reports have varied), about 2,800 processor cores and approximately 6 million logic rules to determine the best answers. Watson took up 10 server racks, each with 10 IBM Power 750 servers and two large refrigeration units all of which was housed in its own room on IBM’s Yorktown Heights campus.
Rather looking at dark side or limitation of these machine, IBM believes the technology behind Watson will be positive and can be applied to a variety of fields, most notably medicine. The company plans to announce on Thursday a joint project with Columbia University and the University of Maryland to create a cybernetic physician’s assistant using Watson’s technology, according to The New York Times . IBM will also work with Nuance Communications to include voice recognition for the new medical project–a feature that could be ready before the end of 2012.
How the game was?
For eg: When host Alex Trebek finishes stating a clue, a human operator (who works for Jeopardy!) turns on a “Buzzer Enable” light on stage to indicate that contestants can “buzz in” and answer. At exactly the moment the “Buzzer Enable” light is activated, Watson’s system receives a signal that the buzzer is open.
Watson’s avatar, which viewers will see behind a standard Jeopardy! podium, is designer Joshua Davis’ artistic representation of the machine. It does not provide eyes or ears for Watson. Instead, Watson depends on text messaging, sent over TCP/IP, in order to receive the clue. At exactly the moment that the clue is revealed on the game board, a text is sent electronically to Watson’s POWER7 chips. So, Watson receives the clue text at the same time it hits Brad Rutter’s and Ken Jennings’ retinas.
Watson uses IBM’s DeepQA technology (over optimized IBM POWER7 servers) to analyze and produce a Jeopardy! clue response. Those responses come with an associated confidence, or estimated probability that the answer is correct. If his confidence is high enough, Watson may decide to buzz in. To do this, Watson sends a signal to a mechanical thumb, which is mounted on exactly the same type of Jeopardy! buzzer used by human contestants. Just like Ken and Brad, Watson must physically depress a button to buzz in.Watson’s buzzing is not instantaneous. For some clues he may not complete the question answering computation in time to make the decision to buzz in. For all clues, even if he does have an answer and confidence ready in time, he still has to respond to the signal and physically depress the button.
The best human contestants don’t wait for, but instead anticipate when Trebek will finish reading a clue. They time their “buzz” for the instant when the last word leaves Trebek’s mouth and the “Buzzer Enable” light turns on. Watson cannot anticipate. He can only react to the enable signal. While Watson reacts at an impressive speed, humans can and do buzz in faster than his best possible reaction time.
When answering a clue, Watson must convert his answer from text into speech to verbally respond like any other contestant. An operator prompts Watson to speak his answer. The operator has no control over what Watson might say. The operator just ensures that Watson will speak at the right moment and not interrupt the host or others.
The sound of Watson’s voice is synthesized, based on a human’s voice. Since it’s not possible to record someone speaking every possible word and phrase imaginable – all the more so given the vast range of topics and knowledge that even a single game of Jeopardy! demands – an IBM text-to-speech engine (TTS) “speaks” Watson’s answer. And Watson’s speech must be highly accurate, as mispronunciations of an ambiguous response may be judged incorrect.
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