IBM’s Watson computer named ‘Person of the Year’ at Webbys

14 Jun 2011

IBM’s Watson Computer – which competed in and won the quiz show Jeopardy! – has been named as ‘Person of the Year’ at the influential 15th Annual Webby Awards.

Earlier this year, the Watson supercomputer captured the international spotlight when it competed on the renowned quiz show Jeopardy! and defeated the show’s two most successful and celebrated contestants, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.

Hailed as the ‘Internet’s highest honour’ by The New York Times, the Webby Awards is the leading international award honouring excellence on the internet, including websites, interactive advertising and media, online film and video, and mobile technology and apps.

Watson’s acceptance speech

The Webby Awards is perhaps best known for its famous five-word requirement for acceptance speeches. When presented with the Person of the Year award by host Lisa Kudrow, Watson responded: “Person of the year – ironic.”

Created by IBM research scientists, Watson is a breakthrough in using computers to answer questions posed in natural language over a nearly unlimited range of knowledge.

Watson is able to analyse massive amounts of data and arrive at the correct answer to a staggering variety of difficult questions across an unlimited range of topics.

IBM is applying Watson-like technology to solve challenges in healthcare, retail, financial services and much more.

Established in 1996, the 15th Annual Webby Awards received nearly 10,000 entries from all 50 US states and more than 60 countries worldwide.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years