During the classic days of Wheel of Fortune, there was ample room for product placement at the end of the show, when the winner got to spend his or her cash on the "Shopping for Prizes" segment. ("I'll take the leather Chippendale sofa for $1,000, the Lapiz gold cufflink for $1,200 and put the rest in a gift certificate.") Jeopardy! is a more highbrow affair, so for IBM to get that kind of exposure, it had to build a computer with artificial intelligence. IBM's new machine, named Watson (after founder Thomas Watson), is planning to go on Jeopardy! sometime soon and compete against mere humans, perhaps even against 74-time winner Ken Jennings. IBM conquered chess years ago when its Deep Blue machine beat world champion Garry Kasparov in 1997. (Kasparov disputed the win. A second match ended in a tie.) Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek positively gushes at the prospect of machine taking on man on his game show, which he calls the "the gold standard" of intelligence. "It's a big challenge for IBM, but I have a feeling they're up to the task," says Trebek. Uh, what is obsequiousness?
—Posted by Todd Wasserman