Jeopardy! The IBM Challenge tests the limits of technology.

By Wendy Sanacore

Is it possible? Can a computer be built to be smarter than a human being?

We're going to have to opportunity to see on Monday, February 14, when Watson – the IBM computer – competes against previous champions on Jeoprady! The IBM Challenge.

Watson began as a DeepQA machine. Operating on a single CPU, it could take up to two hours to answer a question. A large team of IBM folks worked tirelessly to upgrade him to be able to compete against two of the most well-known Jeopardy! champions of the day. But this isn't all fun and games, especially for IBM.

"IBM is not in the entertainment business. But we are in the business of technology and pushing frontiers," said David Shepler – IBM Research Project Manager.

According to the IBM website, Watson was developed as a way to determine whether a system can be designed that applies advanced data management and analytics to natural language in order to uncover a single, reliable insight in a fraction of a second.

I for one will be very curious as to how Watson performs on Jeopardy! this Monday. It's a scary concept to me that technology can be built to out think the human brain. What's at least comforting to me is the thought that while analytically, a computer may be able to calculate an answer based on formulas and input information, computers will never replace the rational, strategic inner workings of a human brain…at least they won't for a long time to come.