Watson IBM’s Jeopardy playing computer is set to square off with reigning game champions, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. If you’ve been focused on analytics, you can tune in tonight as this match-up of biology vs technology is running February 14th-16th.

Stephen Baker, whom you may know well from his contributions to SmartData Collective has followed and chronicled this project from its inception at TheNumerati.net and has written a book, Final Jeopardy: Man vs Machine and the Quest to Know Everything. Here is a video providing additional insight on the project.

ImageThe talent at IBM has combined a drive to build a machine to rival the complexity of the human brain, with a capability to execute the project. This is no mere adventure in robotics. According to the IBM site, Watson has broad implications for the future of ‘analytics, system design and industry transformation’. Whether Watson is a transformative development on the scale of the net remains to be seen. But what is certain is the significance of this project. As the video details, producing a machine that can play and compete on a show like Jeopardy is an epic undertaking. Not only must Watson formulate correct answers first, he must understand nuances of language and context. To date, that’s not an area where mechanics have fared well against biology.

 What does appear more certain is that Watson is a step towards a future where humans will need to be prepared for deeper interaction, perhaps competition, with ‘sentient’ machines. It will be up to numerous technologist, philosophers, law makers and system designers to figure out how our societies will accommodate the coming generation of Watson’s. Of course, we welcome your comments in this forum.

 For further background and insight on this project, you may like to visit:

I should mention too that Stephen’s book, is well worth the read and is available at  BarnesandNoble.com and Amazon.