If you only watch Jeopardy! once…

February 14, 2011, 6:33 PM UTC

Watch it this afternoon, when an IBM supercomputer takes on two human champions

Source: IBM

It’s the biggest man vs. machine confrontation since Deep Blue humiliated Gary Kasparov on the chess board in 1997.

Over the course of three episodes — February 14, 15 and 16 — an IBM (IBM) supercomputer named Watson will challenge Jeopardy!’s most successful human contestants.

We’re not privy to the outcome, but based on the level of pre-publicity generated by IBM and Sony Pictures Television (SNE) — and the eagerness of the PR staff to arrange interviews with the principals — we think this could turn out to be a turning point in the history of applied AI (artificial intelligence).

There’s no Apple (AAPL) angle that we know of, except that Bill Atkinson, one of the stars of the original Macintosh team, is urging everybody to tune in.

Click here for an interactive guide to local air times and stations.

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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]