Watson on Jeopardy

Of all the dumb ideas conjured up for game shows, bringing an IBM computer on to compete with the two greatest Jeopardy champions may be one of the worst.

In a ridiculous advertising campaign for IBM computers, the nerds at IBM created a massive supercomputer to take on two feeble humans in a game of trivia. The show consists of roughly 33% advertising for IBM and 66% regular Jeopardy, making the show extremely painful to watch, particularly when the camera swings over to the crowd of ugly geeks in the audience applauding for the human’s demise. It was something out of a science fiction movie where the computers finally achieve self-realization before turning on their creators.

As for the fairness of the competition, there was almost none as clearly Watson had the upper hand by a long shot. The questions are given to Watson immediately in electronic form while the humans have to read or listen to the clue. That gives Watson a huge amount of extra time to compute the results since the electronic version is read and parsed in milliseconds as opposed to actual seconds for the humans to process the clue. All you had to do was watch Ken Jennings hit his clicker every time in sheer frustration to see the computer’s advantage. I was amazed that Jennings didn’t just say “Fuck this nonsense!” and just walk off the stage. Paul Rutter just seemed happy to get some camera time to help his “acting” career.

One item I found incredibly funny was a short video of the Watson developers testing the system with a MacBook! So much for IBM Thinkpads.

Please, Alex, don’t let this crap happen again!

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