You can't help but be fascinated by Jeopardy's IBM challenge. It's a supercomputer named Watson playing against two Jeopardy! all-star champions.
Computer Engineers at Virginia Tech are impressed with the technology. Joe Turner, a software engineer, told News 7 "watching the computer play is like fascinating for reasons I can't define."
Watson is a supercomputer developed by IBM. Its mega mind is powered by 10 refrigerator sized racks of IBM systems. It reportedly has 250-thousand years worth of material in its database that can be accessed in a fraction of a second.
Kirk Cameron, a professor of computer engineering at Virginia Tech, told News 7 "in some senses you wonder if the computer is being delayed by the reading of the question because it may very well be able to solve it before a human can even read the question."
Watson has dominated the first two rounds but the computer isn't perfect. It has gotten some answers wrong. Joe Turner told News 7 "seeing the computers last night a couple of times not buzz in is almost as exciting as seeing him get the questions right."
IBM hopes to use this technology to one day help hospitals to better diagnose illnesses. Kirk Cameron told News 7 "the machine can act in a supplemental capacity where it basically can say here all the things I thought of that you might want to look at as a doctor and here's how I rank them in terms of the probability of them being applicable in this case."
Computer engineers don't think computers will be replacing humans anytime soon. Wu Feng, a computer science professor at Virginia Tech, told News 7 "I would say that machines are solving real world problems today it's that we need a human in the loop to translate the human problem or scientific problem we are trying to solve into something the computer can understand."
The IBM Challenge wraps up on Jeopardy! Wednesday night. You can watch on WDBJ at 7:30. Jeopardy! has seen its highest ratings in nearly six years.