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Jennings loses, welcomes new computer overlords

Published February 17, 2011 12:12 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

What is better than the best "Jeopardy!" players ever?

The answer is ... a supercomputer by the name of Watson.

The IBM machine ran away with the three-day, two-game showdown with former Utahn Ken Jennings (who won 74-straight days on the quiz show) and Brad Rutter (who is the game's biggest money-winner with more than $3 million).

Watson won $41,413 on Wednesday's episode for a two-day total of $77,147. Jennings finished second by earning $19,200 on Wednesday for a two-day total of $24,000. Rutter earned $11,200 for a two-day total of $21,600.

Watson won $1 million for finishing the first, all of which will be donated to charity. Jennings earned $300,000 for second place; Rutter earned $200,000 for third place; each will donate half their earnings to charity.

We'll never know if the computer actually knew more than Jennings and Rutter. For the third day in a row, Watson left both its human competitors looking consistently frustrated at their inability to click in before it clicked in for the right to answer questions.

The ever-clever Jennings made light of the situation, however. Beneath his (correct) response in the Final Jeopardy round, he wrote, "I for one welcome our new computer overlords."

If nothing else, Jennings gained a measure of revenge against Rutter, who beat him in the Ultimate Tournament of Champions in 2005.