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Source: James Lyall, 785-532-0699,
Media advisory prepared by: Emily Vietti, 785-532-2535,

Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011


MANHATTAN -- If you've ever worried about computers taking over the world, Kansas State University is offering a chance to watch the latest and greatest supercomputer in action.

Join K-Staters and IBM from 4:30 to 10 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 15, in the Union Courtyard at the K-State Student Union to cheer on Watson, the IBM supercomputer, as it competes on "Jeopardy!" against famed contestants Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.

IBM and Proactive Solutions, a Premier IBM Business Partner, will provide pizza, drinks and prizes at the watch party.

According to IBM, Watson is a breakthrough human achievement in the scientific field of question and answering, also known as QA. Named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, it's a computing system that rivals a human's ability to answer questions posed in natural language with speed, accuracy and confidence.

The 'Jeopardy!' format provides the ultimate challenge because the game's clues involve analyzing subtle meaning, irony, riddles and other complexities in which humans excel and computers traditionally do not.

"Jeopardy!" is bringing back some heavy-hitting contestants as Watson's competitors. Ken Jennings broke the "Jeopardy!" record for the most consecutive games played by winning 74 games in a row during the 2004-2005 season. Brad Rutter won the highest cumulative amount ever by a single "Jeopardy!” player, earning more than $3.2 million.

Watson recently won a trial competition against Jennings and Rutter at IBM headquarters in New York. The man versus machine episodes will air Feb 14-16, with two matches being played over three consecutive days.

IBM is a partner with K-State and has a long history of supporting the university in several areas related to information technology.