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The skinny

The skinny: IBM computer edges out 'Jeopardy' champs in test

Men vs. machine

Computer edges out 'Jeopardy' champs in test

The clue: It's the size of 10 refrigerators, has access to the equivalent of 200 million pages of information and knows how to answer in the form of a question. The correct response: "What is the computer IBM developed to become a Jeopardy whiz?" Watson, which IBM claims as a profound advance in artificial intelligence, edged out game-show champions Ken Jennings, above left, and Brad Rutter on Thursday in its first public test, a short practice round ahead of a million-dollar tournament that will be televised next month. Watson tore through a category about female archaeologists, repeatedly activating a mechanical button before either Jennings or Rutter could buzz in, then nailing the questions. Its gentle male voice even scored a laugh when it said, "Let's finish 'Chicks Dig Me.' " Jennings won a record 74 consecutive Jeopardy games in 2004-05. Rutter has won a record of nearly $3.3 million in prize money.

They're No. 1

Girl, boy share 1/11/11 birthday

It's one for the record books. Actually, make that two. Minnesota's Flora Mensah has to share the day's honors with Tyler Ashton Marx of Idaho. Amy Zeller and Codjo Mensah of Eagan welcomed Flora at United Hospital in St. Paul, Minn. at exactly 1:11 a.m. on Tuesday — Jan. 11, 2011. Zeller told KARE-TV that they were watching the clock click down and the baby was born at exactly the right moment. Baby and mother are doing well. Tyler, whose arrival we reported yesterday, clocked in at 11:11 a.m. at St. Luke's Meridian Medical Center in Meridian, Idaho.

War cry

Diplomat blasts 'military tourism'

It is the inside story on a scandal, and it hasn't even been revealed by Wiki­Leaks. The scoop went to Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, Britain's former ambassador in Afghanistan, who in a scathing attack accused the nation's army of deploying "spurious" arguments about the war. And, he said, a Cabinet member confessed to not knowing the difference between a British Tornado fighter jet and a torpedo. At one time, Cowper-Coles said, nearly 30 percent of all British helicopter movements in southern Afghanistan were for VIPs, mostly "senior military tourists from London."

Babysitter's minder

Tyke, 3, tips off police to adult

A three-year-old boy dialed 999 — the Australian emergency code — on a cell phone and told police he was concerned about the drunken state of his babysitter. He made the emergency call shortly after midnight and answered the door when officers arrived at the scene, a court in Perth was told. The officers found Jacqueline Robertson, 39, who was supposed to be looking after the child, had downed more than a bottle of wine.

Compiled from Times wires and other sources.

The skinny: IBM computer edges out 'Jeopardy' champs in test 01/13/11 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 1:55pm]

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