Final Jeopardy by Stephen Baker
Man vs. Machine and the Quest to Know Everything

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“The place to go if you’re really interested in this version of the quest for creating Artificial Intelligence (AI).”—Seattle Times

For centuries, people have dreamed of creating a machine that thinks like a human. Scientists have made progress: computers can now beat chess grandmasters and help prevent terrorist attacks. Yet we still await a machine that exhibits the rich complexity of human thought—one that doesn’t just crunch numbers, or take us to a relevant Web page, but understands us and gives us what we need. With the creation of Watson, IBM’s Jeopardy! playing computer, we are one step closer to that goal.

But how did we get here? In Final Jeopardy, Stephen Baker traces the arc of Watson’s “life,” from its birth in the IBM labs to its big night on the podium. We meet Hollywood moguls and Jeopardy! masters, genius computer programmers and ambitious scientists, including Watson’s eccentric creator, David Ferrucci. We see how a new generation of Watsons could transform medicine, the law, marketing, even science itself, as machines process huge amounts of data at lightning speed, answer our questions, and possibly come up with new hypotheses. As fast and fun as the game itself, Final Jeopardy shows how smart machines will fit into our world—and how they’ll disrupt it.

“Like Tracy Kidder’s Soul of a New Machine, Baker’s book finds us at the dawn of a singularity. It’s an excellent case study, and does good double duty as a Philip K. Dick scenario, too.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Baker’s narrative is both charming and terrifying . . . an entertaining romp through the field of artificial intelligence—and a sobering glimpse of things to come.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review


About Stephen Baker

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STEPHEN BAKER was BusinessWeek's senior technology writer for a decade, based first in Paris and later New York. He has also written for the Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, and the Wall Street Journal. Roger Lowenstein called his first book, The Numerati, "an eye-opening and chilling book." Baker blogs at
Published February 27, 2011 by Mariner Books. 257 pages
Genres: Computers & Technology, Education & Reference, Humor & Entertainment, Science & Math. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Final Jeopardy

Kirkus Reviews

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But imagine a few generations down the line, when Watson will have spawned machines that, to name just one real-world application, can store the texts of every medical-journal article ever written—weighing the newer ones more favorably than those from, say, Victorian England—to aid diagnosticians...

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Publishers Weekly

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Watson is both an information-processing juggernaut, searching millions of documents per second, and a child-like naïf with odd speech impediments that thinks the Al in Alcoa stands for Al Capone (one embarrassing gaffe in a practice match prompted programmers to install a profanity filter).

Feb 14 2011 | Read Full Review of Final Jeopardy: Man vs. Machi...

BC Books

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This book is a must read for fans of Jeopardy or any background in computers.

Feb 13 2011 | Read Full Review of Final Jeopardy: Man vs. Machi...

BC Books

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It is finally time for IBM's Watson to face off against Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter on Jeopardy in a man vs.

Feb 13 2011 | Read Full Review of Final Jeopardy: Man vs. Machi...

New York Journal of Books

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Over the past few days this February 2011, a computer called Watson, built and programmed by IBM researchers, has played the game of Jeopardy!

Feb 17 2011 | Read Full Review of Final Jeopardy: Man vs. Machi...

Culture Mob

We also have the immeasurable advantage of understanding context and, in a setting such as Jeopardy!, benefiting from anticipation: a human contestant has an advantage since she knows the category the question falls under so is already summoning and sorting through all her knowledge of that subject.

Feb 10 2011 | Read Full Review of Final Jeopardy: Man vs. Machi...

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