In February of 2011, an IBM computing system named WATSON competed in an exhibition match against the top human players of the American quiz show JEOPARDY! Ken Jennings (who has that show’s longest winning streak at 74 consecutive games) and Brad Rutter (who had won the most prize money, $3.2 million) faced off against WATSON in three nights of televised play at the TJ Watson Research Center, the IBM labs at Yorktown Heights, NY.
I had the chance to photograph the WATSON research team for two years leading up to the IBM JEOPARDY! Challenge as part of my work at Ogilvy. The story of how WATSON was designed and readied for the competition is documented in a series of films directed by Paul Bozymowski, and a compelling book from Stephen Baker—the photographs here complement the behind-the-scenes story of a revolutionary advance in computing: the development of a system that can understand natural language, and provide confident answers to questions posed to it in real time.