Are you smarter than a supercomputer? SMU discusses ‘IBM at 100’

IBM master inventor Romilea Flores will simulate the now-famous appearance of Watson the computer on the television game show Jeopardy! when she speaks at SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering Friday, March 30, 2012. The event, which will pit SMU students against faculty in answering Jeopardy!-style questions, begins at 2:30 p.m. in Vester Hughes Auditorium, Room 147, Caruth Hall.

Flores will share her behind-the-scenes view of the IBM computer that uses natural language to answer questions in a human fashion (and is named for the computing giant’s first president, Thomas J. Watson). She will also talk about what’s in store for this path-breaking creation.

Watson, the IBM supercomputer, as depicted in its avatar
IBM's Watson, in avatar form.

In 2011, as a test of its abilities, Watson competed in a three-episode Jeopardy! contest for charity that remains the only human-vs.-machine match-up in the show’s history. In a two-game match, Watson beat both Brad Rutter, the game show’s biggest all-time money winner (more than $3.2 million), and Ken Jennings, the record holder for the longest championship streak (74 wins). IBM divided Watson’s $1 million first prize between two charities: international humanitarian organization World Vision and the World Community Grid, an initiative to build the world’s largest public computing grid to aid projects that benefit humanity, such as new treatments for HIV/AIDS, cancer research and affordable water purification.

Beginning at 1:30 p.m. Friday, March 30, SMU alumnus and senior IBM leader Marty Salfen will discuss “IBM at 100: Reinventing the Modern Corporation” in Vester Hughes Auditorium. Salfen will offer a look at the key lessons IBM has learned about how to survive and thrive – examining how companies, institutions and, most importantly, individuals can get out ahead of change in today’s technologically integrated environment.

Click the YouTube screen to see a short film about Watson’s preparation for the Jeopardy! challenge, or click here to see Watson in action in a new windowvideo

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