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Dr. Eric Brown from IBM Research preps four members of congress - Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Jim Himes (D-Conn.), Rush Holt (D-N.J.) - for an exhibition game against IBM's Watson on Monday, Feb. 28, 2011.  The match fostered a conversation among government leaders about the importance of IT to U.S. global competitiveness and encouraged greater focus on math and science education.   Final score: Watson $40,300, Congressional Members $30,000. (Photo credit: Tom Briglia/Feature Photo Service for IBM)

Dr. Eric Brown from IBM Research preps four members of congress - Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Jim Himes (D-Conn.), Rush Holt (D-N.J.) - for an exhibition game against IBM's Watson on Monday, Feb. 28, 2011. The match fostered a conversation among government leaders about the importance of IT to U.S. global competitiveness and encouraged greater focus on math and science education. Final score: Watson $40,300, Congressional Members $30,000. (Photo credit: Tom Briglia/Feature Photo Service for IBM)

Coming off the heels of its recent Jeopardy! win, IBM’s Watson computing system faced off against Congress last night for an exhibition match in Washington with five U.S.Congress members.

The bipartisan group put politics aside to test their trivia knowledge and foster conversations about the importance of IT to U.S. global competitiveness and encourage greater focus on math and science education.

The first of three practice rounds pitted Watson against Congressman Bill Cassidy, a Republican representing Louisiana’s 6th congressional district and Representative Rush Holt, a Democrat representing New Jersey’s 12th congressional district.  A doctor from Baton Rouge, Cassidy posted $1,000 to the board, but it was Representative Holt, a five-time Jeopardy! winner who gave Watson stiff competition.  Holt earned $8,600 against Watson’s $6,200 before the game progressed to Double Jeopardy.

Nan Hayworth (R-N.Y.), IBM's Watson, Jim Himes (D-Conn.), Nan Hayworth (R-N.Y.) during an exhibition match in Washington

Nan Hayworth (R-N.Y.), IBM's Watson, Jim Himes (D-Conn.), during an exhibition match in Washington

Next up, Representative Jared Polis from Colorado’s 2nd congressional district took on Watson and fellow house Democrat Jim Himes from Connecticut’s 4th district for the second practice round.  A Harvard graduate and Rhodes scholar, Himes relied heavily on his book smarts to post $7,600 and Polis stayed competitive with $6,800.  But Watson, a surprising fashionista, went on a tear during the “Always in Fashion” category racking up $22,500.

Bill Cassidy (R-La.), IBM's Watson, and Rush Holt (D-N.J.) during an exhibition match in Washington

Bill Cassidy (R-La.), IBM's Watson, and Rush Holt (D-N.J.) during an exhibition match in Washington

With Watson’s victory close at hand, Representative Himes took to the podium again, undeterred in the third and final round.  Joined by Republican Representative Nan Hayworth, from New York’s 19th district — the birthplace of Watson where much IBM’s research and development was conducted — the two Northeastern members made a valiant effort before Watson closed out the final round of the exhibition match.

Final score:  Watson $40,300, Congressional Members $30,000.
But the informal game wasn’t all fun and games.  “This practice match is more than a trivia contest,” said Christopher Padilla, Vice President, IBM Governmental Programs.  “The technology behind Watson represents a major advancement in computing.  In the data intensive environment of government, this type of technology can help organizations make better decisions and improve how government helps its citizens.”

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9 Comments
 
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August 30, 2011
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Posted by: Meblarstwo
 
March 11, 2011
4:10 pm

Have to milk the publicity and momentum as much as possible, as it is well deserved. I was so impressed and inspired by IBM Watson. It is even bigger than Deep Blue in chess. I am following with interest on the next steps for IBM Watson as it indulges in the healthcare diagnostics arena in the immediate future, and who knows what else in the fullness of time.


Posted by: David
 
March 3, 2011
3:20 pm

Competition between man and machine and the relative merits of each is how CyberDyne Systems got off-track back in the mid-80′s, and we all know how that turned out.


Posted by: John Connor
 
March 3, 2011
2:58 pm

It’s impressive. Ken Jennings got a round on Watson too I think. But remember, ya don’t ‘win’ Jeopardy with just one round. Still, your congressman is a pretty smart guy!


Posted by: Rick Lobo
 
March 2, 2011
3:47 pm

hah! I notice you don’t come right out and state the most impressive feat of the day:
Congressman Rush Holt *beat* Watson! Watson lost! Watson was defeated by a human being!

He’s my Congressman and we’re very proud of him. Cong. Holt is also a five-time Jeopardy champion, an astrophysicist, and a superb human being and Democrat.


Posted by: Louise Mowder
 
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January 22, 2014
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March 1, 2011
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