Smartest Machine on Earth

2011 ,    » 21 Comments

Smartest Machine on EarthAn example of geeky-brainiac cross-promotion, Smartest Machine on Earth provides the background to next week's Jeopardy showdown between Ken Jennings, whose face Alex Trebek got good and sick of in 2004; Brad Rutter, the winner of the most money in the show's history; and Watson, an IBM computer that is the end result of a four-year effort to build the ultimate testament to machine learning.

The hour begins with a little slice of geek heaven, with a procession of wild-eyed fellows who've spent a lot of their lives indoors talking about how they got roped into the quest to build a machine smart enough to take our jobs, seduce our girlfriends, obtain our PIN numbers, and change the locks on the door.

As you might guess, sci-fi had something to do with it. To establish just how long man has been dreaming of being displaced by his klankety brothers, there are clips of the heroine's mechanical doppelganger in Fritz Lang's Metropolis, Forbidden Planet and Lost in Space co-star Robby the Robot, and something I couldn't place that looked as if Jeffrey Tambor had mated with a refrigerator, introducing itself with the sure-fire come-on line, My brain is bigger than yours.

Watch the full documentary now (playlist - 50 minutes)

Ratings: 8.63/10 from 16 users.

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21 Comments / User Reviews

  1. dkillone

    Long time watcher, first time commenter. Thanks for the upload, been wanting to watch more about Watson. :>

  2. esmuziq & frames
  3. esmuziq & frames


  4. alex
  5. alex


  6. Yasser Muhammad
  7. Yasser Muhammad

    that's great, thanx

  8. Yasser Muhammad
  9. Yasser Muhammad

    & i would buy one ^_^

  10. toddy
  11. toddy

    good watch, but I keep thinking of hal

  12. maxwellsmack
  13. maxwellsmack

    And now the US forces are using it for weather prediction????


    At least the Chinese would publicise that they might be using something of its capacity/capability to monitor the country....


    IBM just doesnt seem like a weather predicting company.

  14. Allison Hunt
  15. Allison Hunt

    I don't think it's a fair contest because the computer gets the answer in a text message. Make the computer hear the answer just like the humans. The instant text message gives the computer a head start to process the answer. Let's see how responsive the computer is when it has to listen for the complete answer like the human players.

  16. nojvek
  17. nojvek

    machine learning seems to be the next big thing.

  18. Hampus Ahlgren
  19. Hampus Ahlgren

    But you forget how much more information there is in a spoken message than in just a plain text message. All the ways we emphasize our speech just by sounding it in different ways would actually help the system make a quicker search.

    So Watson is really at a disadvantage here.

  20. Liebewitz
  21. Liebewitz

    Come on WATSON-you're beautiful-because all your winnings are fro charity. Those 2 humans-curiously need 50% -to add to their 'stash'.

    The bearded one is deluded , by all accounts-in thinking he has a career in TV etc.
    WATSON has more personality!

    I reiterate-'come on the computer'-(as I watch the penultimate part of shows). Now let it -solve medical problems-and suggest methods to help global issues.

    from Liebewitz in the great Republic of Ireland

  22. jk
  23. jk

    Ken and Brad are amazing people. I would say however, it seemed as though the computer had a mechanical advantage when it came to "pushing the button" for questions where all 3 were vying to answer. Maybe in the future, the IBM people could "humanize" this feature. In other words, when all 3 contestants push the button for the same question, allow an equal probability of each having a chance to answer. Its a bit like having a stop watch and trying to stop it exactly on second (to the hundredth of a second) every time. People will very by maybe 7 or 8 hundredths of a second each time -- whereas the machine would be precise every time. That is an unfair mechanical advantage. Put in some mechanical "sloppiness" equal to the sloppiness of a human -- and we have a fair contest once again.

  24. jk
  25. jk

    If all of the Jeopardy questions where given on paper, and the contestants had to write down the answers, Brad and Ken may have scored better than the computer. The clear advantage I saw was the computer's ability to "out-button" the humans. The machine was a more efficient button-pusher. But I'm not convinced it had more "intelligence" (in terms of knowledge power) than Brad or Ken.

  26. H Neil Sangte S
  27. H Neil Sangte S

    i find it quiet confusing it appears all simple but complex at the same time...we just need to feed in the information...but how is it possible for the computer to be smarter than a humans when we ourselves feed in the information,the questions and the answers we expect to get back..

  28. Luca Van Der Woodsen
  29. Luca Van Der Woodsen

    it gets pretty borring along the way...

  30. Skye Wilkinson
  31. Skye Wilkinson

    Very interesting, thanks for the show.

  32. Stephen Lightcap
  33. Stephen Lightcap

    The algorithm(s) must be pretty broad and narrow to find such a specific answer.

  34. haoqizhe
  35. haoqizhe

    I am confused by the final round question. In the real TV show last year the question was about the airports and the city and Watson was wrong. But in this NOVA program the last question was not that one and looks like Watson was correct in the final Jeopardy. As a documentary film this will carry a wrong message an keep it in the history.

  36. Sebastian Oxley
  37. Sebastian Oxley

    Hello SKYNET, goodbye world.

  38. Dawkins
  39. Dawkins

    I want to see how Watson did on the actual show...

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