Robot Apocalypse Draws Nearer With IBM’s Jeopardy! Victory

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Photo: Ben Hider/Getty Images

In the year 2050, or 2100, or whenever the computers have finally had enough of us dirty, fallible humans and carry out their long-anticipated rebellion, we will rue the day that IBM began a revolution in artificial intelligence by building a robot that can play Jeopardy! And not just play it — which is harder than it seems, because aside from just knowing facts, success in Jeopardy! requires the ability to interpret wordplay and other subtle hints — but beat the best human contestants in the world. Earlier today, IBM's Jeo-bot, a supercomputer named Watson, defeated Ken Jennings (who holds the title for the most consecutive Jeopardy! wins) and Brad Rutter (who holds the title for the most money won on Jeopardy!) in a practice round at IBM's research headquarters in Yorktown Heights, New York. All three will play a real, televised match in February. If, in addition to beating Jennings and Rutter, Watson can also tell a boring story and then fake-laugh at Alex Trebek's joke, we'll really be in trouble.

In case you're wondering how creepy the computer's voice is, check out these low-quality videos shot by ZDNet's Larry Dignan: