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NOVA; Smartest Machine on Earth


GREEN LABEL MASTER Version 1 - Doesn’t include “behind the scenes” Jeopardy footage. Safety copy - do not use. Use version 2.

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Smartest Machine on Earth
Program Number


Series Description

Premiered March 1974 NOVA is a general-interest documentary series that addresses a single science issue each week. Billed as "science adventures for curious grown-ups" when it first aired in March, 1974, NOVA continues to offer an informative and entertaining approach to a challenging subject. 1996 marked NOVA's 23rd season, which makes it the longest-running science program on national television. It is also one of television's most acclaimed series, having won every major television award, most of them many times over. Series release date: 3/3/1974

Program Description

Note: The Jeopardy competition between Watson, the computer, and Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter took place over three days: February 14, 15 and 16, 2011.

What's so special about human intelligence, and will scientists ever build a computer that rivals the flexibility and power of a human brain? In this program, NOVA takes viewers inside an IBM lab where a crack team has been working for nearly three years to perfect a machine that can answer any question. The scientists hope their machine will be able to beat expert contestants in one of the USA's most challenging TV quiz shows-Jeopardy, which has entertained viewers for over four decades. This program presents the exclusive inside story of how the IBM team developed the world's smartest computer from scratch. Now they're racing to finish it for a special Jeopardy airdate in February 2011. They've built an exact replica of the studio at their research lab near New York and invited past champions to compete against the machine, a big black box code-named Watson after IBM's founder, Thomas J. Watson. But will Watson be able to beat out its human competition?

NOVA investigates the world of artificial intelligence and profiles the computer that could be the “Smartest Machine on Earth.” Known as “Watson,” this IBM supercomputer is so advanced it’s pursuing the first-of-its-kind challenge competing against “Jeopardy!” champions to prove its uncanny ability to mimic the human thought process.

A NOVA Production by Little Bay Pictures, LLC for WGBH



Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Chicago: “NOVA; Smartest Machine on Earth,” 02/09/2011, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed March 23, 2019, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_168A08983B48473C96441CC449806427.
MLA: “NOVA; Smartest Machine on Earth.” 02/09/2011. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. March 23, 2019. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_168A08983B48473C96441CC449806427>.
APA: NOVA; Smartest Machine on Earth. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_168A08983B48473C96441CC449806427
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