Photo: IBM

There’s so much material on Watson’s big win on Jeopardy yesterday, it would take me the rest of the day to curate the event intelligently. But here are just a few links for those who want to get a taste of the computer’s victory over the best Jeopardy players in the world, in what either heralds humankind’s inevitable decline at the hands of the machines, or simply means you should forget about trying out for that spot on Wheel of Fortune.

PBS Newshour has a great page up today with all of its reports on Jeopardy’s new champ, and IBM has put up a long and interesting video on Watson’s development.

And of course Jon Stewart got in on the act as well.

Yesterday, KQED News intern Shannon Service headed on over to Cobb’s Comedy Club in San Francisco, where a bunch of IBM scientists who had worked on the project congregated to watch their creation’s victory. There, she interviewed John Prager, a developer who worked on helping Watson understand human language.

Sometimes, scientists themselves don’t seem to understand human language — meaning they don’t always give the best interviews because they understandably haven’t done a lot of explaining to laypeople. But Mr. Prager did a good job of talking about Watson’s significance to the field of artificial intelligence, and even addressed a question on people’s fears about what its victory last night represents.

IBM developer says contest shows how artificial Q&A systems can be fallible but still very useful[audio:]

What distinguishes Watson from other computers; how it weighs risk in deciding whether to answer, how it learns, and should be humans be afraid of Watson?[audio:]

That last point, about being afraid of Watson? That’s kind of funny. I mean, what’s the worst that could possibly happen?

Exploring Watson’s “Jeopardy” Victory 17 February,2011Jon Brooks

  • Sherwin Chew

    1. Why does it take so long for my computer to startup/shutdow, but Watson can ring in so quickly?
    2. In terms of knowledge, who knew more?
    3. In terms of understanding, where was Watson tripped up?
    4. Why did Watson not have to hear the questions in order to answer?


Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks is the host and editor of KQED’s health and technology blog, Future of You. He is the former editor of KQED’s daily news blog, News Fix. A veteran blogger, he previously worked for Yahoo! in various news writing and editing roles. He was also the editor of, which documented user-generated content about the financial crisis and recession. Jon is also a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S. He has written about film for his own blog and studied film at Boston University. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College.

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