NJ Congressman Clobbers Jeopardy Computer

Holt tops Watson supercomputer in Jeopardy exhibition match

By Catherine Brown
|  Wednesday, Mar 2, 2011  |  Updated 3:24 PM EDT
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NJ Congressman Clobbers Jeopardy Computer

Courtesy of IBM

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An IBM supercomputer met its match taking on U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12).

Rep. Holt joined four other members of Congress for an exhibition Jeopardy! match with IBM's Watson computing system.  At the end of his round against Watson, Holt earned $8,600 to Watson's $6,200, according to a statement released by Holt.

"I was proud to hold my own with Watson," Holt said.

Holt was five-time Jeopardy! winner from 35 years ago.

The seven-term Democrat is a physicist and was the Assistant Director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory at Princeton University, before he was elected to Congress in 1998.

The non-televised exhibition was staged to help demonstrate the importance of IT to global competitiveness and  to promote math and science education.

"The technology behind Watson represents a major advancement in computing," said Christopher Padilla, Vice President, IBM Governmental Programs.

The match against Watson was a trivia contest.  Playing along with Holt were U.S. Reps. Bill Cassidy (LA-06),  Jared Polis (CO-02), Jim Himes (CT-04) and Nan Hayworth (NY-19).

Rep. Holt built up a lead in the categories of “Presidential Rhyme Time” (example of a clue: Herbert’s military strategy; answer: What is Hoover’s Maneuvers) and “Also a Laundry Detergent” (example of a clue: 3-letter nickname for the Beatles; answer: What is Fab). In the category of “Phobias” he correctly identified what Hippophobia is the fear of (horses).

"While it was fun to out-do Watson for one night in trivia; it is vital that, as a nation, we out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world for generations to come," said Holt.

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