Monday, February 14, 2011

Rise of the Machines (aka: Thanks, Alex Trebek)

Well, if you haven't heard, EJ's here to tell you. It's over. It's all over.

Ok, let me back up a little bit and explain. Today was Round 1 of a very special Jeopardy exhibition match where 2 of the winningest champions in Jeopardy history - Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter took on IBM's super computer - the cognitively nimble droid named Watson. A thinking computer.

They may as well have just named it Skynet, cuz we all know how this story ends. Destruction of the human race. But first? Demolition of Watson's game show competition.

It was actually a very fun competition to watch. Watson had the home field advantage as the competition took place in the IMB facilities of Yorktown, NY (pictured left), and jumped out to a commanding lead early on. It really looked like it wasn't even going to be a contest till Brad and Ken (the John Henry and Paul Bunyan of the competition) totally kicked it up a notch and started to show what the we humans can do! (and by "we", I mean "them", cuz I knew not ONE answer)

On top of Ken and Brad getting competitive out of nowhere, not only were they beating Watson to the buzzer, but Watson was getting a little flustered and actually answered some questions incorrectly. At one point Brad even took the lead, and I was starting to worry that Watson would make a liar out of me after telling everyone that would listen today that Watson was gonna CREAM the human beings.

Another remarkable and interesting thing to watch was Alex Trebek in this match. The show started out explaining Watson's makeup and how how he operates, all the while Trebek notably referring to Watson as an "it", refusing to confer any type of assumed humanity on this machine that you can't help but root for. But as the show went on, Mr. Trebek (traitor to the human race) started calling Watson by "he". I guess when Trebek saw how dominating Watson was, he didn't want to take the chance of pissing "it" off.

By the end of show and Round 1, Watson was tied with Brad for about $5,000, while Ken was still in it with around $2000. Double Jeopardy is tomorrow, and I highly recommend checking it out! ... Although, like I've been saying - we don't need a crystal ball to predict the obvious ... We already know how this story ends.

ps - As this show was pre-taped, this is an actual PHOTO taken by a Wall Street Journal photographer of the studio audience following Final Jeopardy.

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