In 2011, the IBM computing system WATSON competed in a televised match against the top human players of the American quiz show JEOPARDY! Ken Jennings (with the show’s longest winning streak at 74 consecutive games) and Brad Rutter (who had won the most prize money, $3.2 million) both faced down the machine; the computer won. I photographed the WATSON research team for two years leading up to the IBM JEOPARDY! Challenge.
Veteran show announcer Johnny Gilbert, backstage on the JEOPARDY! set, Los Angeles CA.
WATSON underwent exhaustive testing at IBM Research, playing hundreds of real games against human contestants.
JEOPARDY! producers visited IBM Research labs in Yorktown Heights, NY to see WATSON in action.
WATSON takes on human contestants. The testing studios at IBM Research Yorktown Heights, NY were made to emulate closely the actual television gameplay.
IBM WATSON researcher Adam Lally sweats some code.
JEOPARDY! Executive Producer Harry Friedman watches a WATSON sparring match.
The artist Joshua Davis (left) was responsible for WATSON's visual identity; here he discusses with IBM Research's Burn Lewis how the machine will appear on TV.
IBM Research Principle Investigator Dr. David Ferrucci watches a WATSON sparring match.
JEOPARDY! host Alex Trebek takes a tour of the WATSON computing system server room prior to the championship match.
WATSON, behind glass.
Engineers prepare the JEOPARDY! stage at IBM Research Yorktown Heights where the televised human vs. computer championship match will be played over three nights.
JEOPARDY! host Alex Trebek watches a rehearsal, IBM Research Yorktown Heights, NY.
Dr. David Ferrucci awaits analytics results from a WATSON sparring match, one day prior to the championship.
IBM's Dr. David Gondek of the WATSON Strategy Team, in rehearsal.
Ken Jennings ponders a question in a rehearsal match with WATSON.
IBM's Burn Lewis, responsible for WATSON's in-show operations.
JEOPARDY! host Alex Trebek in the IBM WATSON server room.
Ken Jennings (left), with IBM WATSON and Brad Rutter in rehearsal, IBM Research Yorktown Heights, NY.
A smiling Dr. David Ferrucci after WATSON's first win in the best-of-three championship match.
An appreciative moment among IBMers as WATSON takes the first round.
Dr. David Ferrucci (foreground) at a press conference following the first round match.
Ken Jennings, who holds the JEOPARDY! record for most consecutive wins, moments before the final championship round.
JEOPARDY! champion Brad Rutter heads to the stage to take on IBM WATSON for the finals.
Ken Jennings (center) with Dr. David Ferrucci and Alex Trebek, IBM Research Yorktown Heights, NY.
Ken Jennings, with Brad Rutter following the computing system's decisive JEOPARDY! win. WATSON received the Grand Prize of $1 million dollars, which IBM donated entirely to charities.
Dr. David Ferrucci.