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The Jeopardy-Playing Computer's Secret Weapon

Illustration for article titled The Jeopardy-Playing Computers Secret Weapon

Okay, so we already know that IBM's Watson computer can outshine humanity's fiercest nerd-warriors. But it's not just because it's smarter. It's because of how it's wired.


Esquire's got a fun interview this month with Ken Jennings, whose full Jeopardy bout with Watson will air this coming Monday. In it, they note just why, exactly, it's so hard for man to beat machine:

Perhaps more alarmingly for the humans standing on either side of it, Watson will be hard-wired into the game board. When those banks of lights come to life, Watson will be triggered by an electrical impulse. Jennings's and Rutter's nervous systems will be racing against a higher voltage, and it's been a long time since anyone could turn off the lights and get into bed before the room got dark.


Dirty cheating circuithead. What kind of fair fight is that? [Esquire]

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As far as I have read/seen it has a physical buzzer which is set to a typical human response time.

Also doesn't it get the input via voice? I didn't see it said anywhere that it gets the questions through text input.

As far as I can tell the only thing that is "hard-wired" to the board is the notice that it is okay to buzz-in since Watson cannot see the lights that indicate the question reading is complete.