This isn't the first time humans have taken on IBM's technology. Chess grandmaster Gary Kasparov famously was the first world chess champion to lose to a computer when he took on Deep Blue. However, Watson opens up a new era in the battle of man versus machine, says Spencer E Ante at The Wall Street Journal.
Watson, which gets its name from IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, is a room-sized system, powered by 90 servers and 360 chips, and was built over the last four years by a team of IBM researchers. The computing system, which aims to understand language as humans naturally speak it, has a future helping doctors more accurately diagnose patients and may be useful at online self-service help desks, tourist information centers and customer hotlines, according to Julianne Pepitone at CNNMoney.com.