Not much new to report after the second game of the Watson Jeopardy Challenge. I’ve added a few updates to yesterday’s post on Watson and the result was as expected, though Watson struggled a lot more in this game than in the prior round, deciding not to answer many questions due to low confidence and making a few mistakes. In a few cases it was saved by not buzzing fast enough even though it had over 50% confidence, as it would have answered slightly wrong.
Some quick updates from yesterday you will also find in the comments:
- Toronto’s 2nd busiest airport, the small Island airport, has the official but rarely used name of Billy Bishop. Bishop was one of the top flying aces of WWI, not WWII. Watson’s answer is still not clear, but that it made mistakes like this is not surprising. That it made so few is surprising
- You can buzz in as soon as Trebek stops speaking. If you buzz early, you can’t buzz again for 0.2 seconds. Watson gets an electronic signal when it is time to buzz, and then physically presses the button. The humans get a light, but they don’t bother looking at it, they try timing when Trebek will finish. I think this is a serious advantage for Watson.
- This IBM Blog Post gives the details on the technical interface between Watson and the game.
- Watson may have seemed confident with its large bet of $17,973. But in fact the bet was fixed in advance:
- Had Jennings bet his whole purse (and got it right) he would have ended up with $41,200.
- If Watson had lost his bet of 17,973, he would have ended up with $41,201 and bare victory.
- Both got it right, and Jennings bet low, so it ended up being $77,147 to $24,000.
- Jennings’ low bet was wise at it assured him of 2nd place and a $300K purse instead of $200K. Knowing he could not beat Watson unless Watson bet stupidly, he did the right thing.
- Jennings still could have bet more and got 2nd, but there was no value to it, the purse is always $300K
- If Watson had wanted to 2nd guess, it might have realized Jennings would do this and bet appropriately but that’s not something you can do more than once.
- As you might expect, the team put a bunch of thought into the betting algorithm as that is one thing computers can do perfectly sometimes. I’ve often seen Jeopardy players lose from bad betting.
- It still sure seemed like a program sponsored by IBM. But I think it would have been nice if the PI of DeepQA was allowed up on stage for the handshake.
- I do wish they had programmed a bit of sense of humour into Watson. Fake, but fun.
- Amusingly Watson got a category about computer keyboards and didn’t understand it.
- Unlike the human players who will hit the buzzer before they have formed the answer in their minds, in hope that they know it, Watson does not hit unless it has computed a high confidence answer.
- Watson would have bombed on visual or audio clues. The show has a rule allowing those to be removed from the game for a disabled player, these were applied!
- A few of the questions had some interesting ironies based on what was going on. I wonder if that was deliberate or not. To be fair, I would think the question-writers would not be told what contest they were writing for.