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IBM's Watson goes on tour, defeats Harvard and MIT business students

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IBM's Watson defeats Harvard and MIT business students

IBM Watson
IBM Watson

IBM's Watson super computer has shown off its Jeopardy skills yet again. The data-wrangling supercomputer that defeated Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter earlier this year was rolled out to compete against two teams of business students from Harvard and MIT in Boston on Monday. The Harvard Business School team, which included two Jeopardy veterans, put up a fight and was trailing Watson by less than $2,000 going into Final Jeopardy. However, it wasn't enough: Watson ultimately won by a score of $53,601 against Harvard's $42,399 and MIT's $100 (an unfortunate wager).

In addition to Watson's Jeopardy prowess, the supercomputer demonstrated a new ability during the IBM university tour: mobility. Don't get too excited — we're not talking about a gigantic walking supercomputer, but rather a method that allows Watson to compete remotely. During that very first televised Jeopardy battle, Watson was located in a refrigerated room just behind the stage at IBM's research facility in Yorktown Heights, NY. For the university challenges, however, Watson wasn't present — it stayed home and only the game-playing parts were brought to the competition. In order to make this work, Watson answered all of the questions (answers in Jeopardy-speak) beforehand and only made the decisions about whether or not to buzz in, how much to wager, and which categories to choose in real-time. According to a Watson researcher, the results would have been identical had the competition been held on Watson's home court. We're not sure if the MIT team agrees.