Jeopardy champ blogs his sparring win over IBM’s Watson

January 26, 2011
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It’s been a long year for Greg Lindsay. The two-time Jeopardy champ sparred last winter with IBM’s Watson, and if the computer had been wearing pants at the beginning of the match, there would have been nothing but digital threads on the floor by the end. In three games, Lindsay thrashed Watson. But he had to keep his mouth shut about it, since he had signed a strict non-disclosure agreement. This wait had to be torturous for a Jeopardy player.

It’s been a long year for Greg Lindsay. The two-time Jeopardy champ sparred last winter with IBM’s Watson, and if the computer had been wearing pants at the beginning of the match, there would have been nothing but digital threads on the floor by the end. In three games, Lindsay thrashed Watson. But he had to keep his mouth shut about it, since he had signed a strict non-disclosure agreement. This wait had to be torturous for a Jeopardy player.

I described Lindsay’s triumph in the sixth chapter of Final Jeopardy, which just became available on ebook readers today. (Kindle, Nook) This was the chapter in which Watson, following two years of schooling, for the first time faces human beings who have actually played Jeopardy. Its performance was impressive, but folks like Lindsay showed the IBM team just how much work was still to be done.

In any case, Lindsay’s dispatch in blogging the relevant paragraphs of the book was even more impressive than his speed on the Jeopardy buzzer. Lindsay, by the way, is a journalist and author, who has co-written a book called Aerotropolis-The Way We’ll Live Next. It’s about the airport-centered cities of the future, and it’s coming out in March.