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Customer Review

on 11 April 2011
This book is wonderful, interesting, not too technical and thoroughly captivating throughout.

I highly recommend it.


Baker starts by taking the reader through the story of IBM's reasoning behind the so-called 'Grand Challenge', how it was thought up and proposed and the background behind the difficulty of taking the challenge up. Then, through delightful clarity, humour and insight (Baker appears to have had access to all key figures at all times) he tells the tale of the technical challenges, the insights, the tribulations and the frustrations of building the mammoth Watson.

As a technical person interested in both the technical and human sides of the project, I'm entirely satisfied with the way in which the machine's technique was described. I didn't feel at any point that I wouldn't have understood it as a non-computer nerd, and I will be giving the book to my technical-jargon-averse girlfriend to read afterwards. The clever analogies throughout are both entertaining and insightful.

Baker's writing style is fluid and captivating and I couldn't help pick it up at every opportunity to see what happened next (even though I had already seen Watson's performance on Jeopardy). It's a style of suspenseful and intriguing writing I've not previously come across in any science-related text and indeed I now realise that, although it described a scientific endeavour, the story told is a human one.

I highly recommend this book to anybody interested in the Watson project, AI (or the question of its use), what computers are capable of or what it takes for a dream team of geniuses to do what sounded impossible only three years ago.
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