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IBM Computer To Battle Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter on 'Jeopardy'

An IBM supercomputer will face two of the most successful players in 'Jeopardy' history in three episodes that will be broadcast in February.

Dubbed 'Watson' after company founder Thomas J. Watson Sr., the computer will take on Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter in the episodes that will be played for a grand prize of $1 million.

Jennings set the record for the highest American game show winnings in 2004 after earning $2.5 million in 75 straight Jeopardy appearances. Rutter surpassed Jennings' cumulative winnings, when he defeated him in the Ultimate Tournament of Champions in 2005 and totaled nearly $3.3 million in prize money.

Producers have promised the prize money will go to charity if Watson wins and half of the winnings will be donated if either one of Jennings and Rutter comes out on top.

IBM scientists have reportedly been working on a computer program designed to compete in Jeopardy-style contests for at least two years.

In a news release, IBM says they believe the show's format is "the ultimate challenge” for Watson because "the game's clues involve analyzing subtle meaning, irony, riddles and other complexities in which humans excel and computers traditionally do not."

The computer qualified for the show by passing the same test that human contestants must pass, according to producers. Watson has been brushing up by playing more than fifty games with former contestants for practice in recent weeks. IBM plans to share some highlights from those contests in the coming months.

The special episodes will air over the course of three nights, beginning on February 14.

December 15, 2010 |

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