Skynet...call your agent. Last night, IBM's Watson supercomputer was a contestant on JEOPARDY and it kicked ass. Competing against two of the show's major champions, Kenn Jennings and Brad Rutter, it did a pretty amazing job tying Brad with $5,000 at the end of the show. Armed with 15 terabytes of RAM and 2800 processor cores, the computer was too big to have on stage so it was represented by an "avatar" which was a computer screen and a voice that sounded suspiciously like HAL.
As fascinating as the show was, it was a bit of a massive, 30 minute advertisement for IBM, which repeated it's corporate initials countless times and had it's logo all over the place. There was even a mini-doc about how IBM scientists trained Watson for the big game and how it's virtual brain (NOT connected to the Internet btw!) actually worked. IBM clearly is aiming to beat Google in the "Star Trek" stakes of creating the computer you can ask questions to in standard English and get instantaneous answers. And if Watson can actually win this megamatch, those will be some serious bragging rights.
Below is some footage from last night's show, reported by the AP. The competition continues tonight and Wednesday. So tune in to see if humanity gets it's ass whooped by bunch of circuits.