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Poems That Solve PuzzlesThe History and Science of Algorithms$
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Chris Bleakley

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198853732

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198853732.001.0001

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America’s Favourite Quiz Show

America’s Favourite Quiz Show

(p.171) 10 America’s Favourite Quiz Show
Poems That Solve Puzzles

Chris Bleakley

Oxford University Press

Chapter 11 tells the tale of the IBM Jeopardy! Challenge. Jeopardy! is America’s favourite television quiz show. Three players compete on the buzzer to respond to clues provided by the host. The twist is that the clues are “answers” and the player’s guesses are phrased as “questions”. In 2011, the two all-time greatest Jeopardy! players played IBM’s Watson computer for a US$1 million prize. IBM had been working on Watson for almost six years. The IBM team developed an array of new AI algorithms, each dealing with a different clue type. The computer’s memory was packed with libraries of books and even entire encyclopaedias. At the end of the first episode, Watson was neck-and-neck with Brad Rutter. The second episode was a landslide for Watson. The finale was an emphatic victory for the computer. Ken Jennings raised the white flag for humanity: “I, for one, welcome our new computer overlords”.

Keywords:   algorithm, IBM Watson, Jeopardy, quiz show, artificial intelligence, natural language processing, Brad Rutter, Ken Jennings

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