World’s Strangest

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10 Technology Prizes That Propelled Us Forward

Sometimes, people just need a little added incentive. Here are 10 technology-related prizes that helped move us forward. 1. Orteig Prize In 1919, French-born, New York City hotelier Raymond Orteig offered a $25,000 prize to the first pilot who made a solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean. For years, pilots gave it a shot and many [...]

Ken Jennings: Watson “has never known the touch of a woman.”

Above: Watson as “Turd Ferguson.” In the days since IBM’s Watson defeated Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter on Jeopardy!, Jennings has written several articles about his experience — they’re funny, personal, and a bit technical. In other words, required reading. Here’s a roundup. My Puny Human Brain In this Slate article, Jennings discusses his matches against Watson, and [...]

What is “Awesome?” IBM’s Watson vs. Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter

IBM has a history of pitting man versus machine in PR stunts that capture headlines — and yeah, it’s happening again, tonight. In 1989, IBM took on chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov using its Deep Thought machine…and lost. In 1996, IBM returned with Deep Blue…and lost. But in 1997, a reengineered version of Deep Blue narrowly [...]

4 Classic Battles Between Man (or Horse) and Machine

Nothing could prepare Jeopardy! champ, author and regular mental_floss magazine columnist Ken Jennings for the battle he’s about to face. In episodes that will air next month, Ken will take on fellow Jeopardy! genius Brad Rutter and Watson, an IBM supercomputer. Yesterday, the three challengers squared off in a trial round for the press. So [...]

Garry Kasparov on Chess, Computers, and Grandmasters Using Computers

In what is nominally a book review, chess grandmaster (and lately, politician) Garry Kasparov discusses how computers have changed chess. Famously defeated by IBM’s Deep Blue in 1997, Kasparov railed against computer chess in the 80’s and 90’s, but now he has some perspective on the matter, and shares his deep knowledge of the subject [...]