First, computers took all the fun out of Sudoku—could Jeopardy be next? Watson, a computer designed by IBM specifically to compete on the game show, beat two legendary champs yesterday in its first public test: Ken Jennings, who won a record number of games, and Brad Rutter, who won a record amount of prize money. The computer, as big as 10 refrigerators and holding 200 million pages of information from encyclopedias, dictionaries, news, movie scripts, and more, was represented by an LCD screen.
"When Watson's progeny comes back to kill me from the future, I have my escape route planned just in case,” joked Rutter. The computer—which, yes, does give answers in the correct answer-as-a-question format—won $4,400 to Jennings' $3,400 and Rutter's $1,200 in the practice round, the AP reports. A real tournament will be televised Feb. 14-16, the winner of which will score $1 million. (If Watson, named for IBM’s founder, wins, the company will donate the money to charity.) And, yes, the computer does have real-world applications, including helping doctors with patient care. Click for more on the February battle.