Final Jeopardy: The Story of Watson, the Computer That Will Transform Our World

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Feb 27, 2011 - Technology & Engineering - 288 pages
2 Reviews

“The place to go if you’re really interested in this version of the quest for creating Artificial Intelligence (AI).”—Seattle Times

For centuries, people have dreamed of creating a machine that thinks like a human. Scientists have made progress: computers can now beat chess grandmasters and help prevent terrorist attacks. Yet we still await a machine that exhibits the rich complexity of human thought—one that doesn’t just crunch numbers, or take us to a relevant Web page, but understands us and gives us what we need. With the creation of Watson, IBM’s Jeopardy! playing computer, we are one step closer to that goal.

But how did we get here? In Final Jeopardy, Stephen Baker traces the arc of Watson’s “life,” from its birth in the IBM labs to its big night on the podium. We meet Hollywood moguls and Jeopardy! masters, genius computer programmers and ambitious scientists, including Watson’s eccentric creator, David Ferrucci. We see how a new generation of Watsons could transform medicine, the law, marketing, even science itself, as machines process huge amounts of data at lightning speed, answer our questions, and possibly come up with new hypotheses. As fast and fun as the game itself, Final Jeopardy shows how smart machines will fit into our world—and how they’ll disrupt it.

“Like Tracy Kidder’s Soul of a New Machine, Baker’s book finds us at the dawn of a singularity. It’s an excellent case study, and does good double duty as a Philip K. Dick scenario, too.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Baker’s narrative is both charming and terrifying . . . an entertaining romp through the field of artificial intelligence—and a sobering glimpse of things to come.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

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Final Jeopardy: Man vs. Machine and the Quest To Know Everything

User Review  - William Baer - Book Verdict

In February 2011, the world watched as a computer named Watson handily beat the two greatest Jeopardy champions of all time. The contest was reminiscent of when IBM's Deep Blue defeated chess ... Read full review

FINAL JEOPARDY: Man vs. Machine and the Quest to Know Everything

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Are you ready for machines to take over the world? How about just a game show to start with?That's just the scenario of BusinessWeek senior technology writer Baker's (The Numerati, 2008) account of ... Read full review

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About the author (2011)

STEPHEN BAKER was BusinessWeek's senior technology writer for a decade, based first in Paris and later New York. He has also written for the Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, and the Wall Street Journal. Roger Lowenstein called his first book, The Numerati, "an eye-opening and chilling book." Baker blogs at

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