Under the rules of the match that the company has negotiated with the “Jeopardy!” producers, the computer will not have to emulate all human qualities. It will receive questions as electronic text. The human contestants will both see the text of each question and hear it spoken by the show’s host, Alex Trebek…
In a demonstration match here at the I.B.M. laboratory against two researchers recently, Watson appeared to be both aggressive and competent, but also made the occasional puzzling blunder.
For example, given the statement, “Bordered by Syria and Israel, this small country is only 135 miles long and 35 miles wide,” Watson beat its human competitors by quickly answering, “What is Lebanon?”
Moments later, however, the program stumbled when it decided it had high confidence that a “sheet” was a fruit.