Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Watson v. Meat

Further to Eli's thoughts on "Watson's" display of trivia-quiz prowess on Jeopardy, where it has handily defeated the two humanoid Jeopardy-winning machines, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, I observe that The Watson Episodes -- as future game show historians, I am confident, will come to label them -- are unwatchable.

Mind you, these episodes are not unwatchable in the usual, everyday, grating, why-won't-Alex-Trebek-please-stop-talking way, but in that they are little more than an infomercial for IBM. If I want to watch an infomercial for IBM, I assume my cable provider has thoughtfully bundled an all-hours IBM infomercial channel somewhere among the high three-figure channel numbers, and that I am already paying for having it there.

Notwithstanding the mild kerfuffle over whether Watson's success owes to response time as much as quiz-answering -- I think there's something to that objection -- the computer is undeniably impressive in its ability to process natural language. My hope is that on the strength of this victory over English-speaking humanity's greatest trivia masters, Watson will be elevated to host of Jeopardy, and that Alex Trebek will be returned to Canada, or somewhere else where they don't have televisions or microphones.

It turns out I posted on Watson once before. Who knew?


Cera said...

Have you read this Slate article by Jennings on the experience?
..."Watson has lots in common with a top-ranked human Jeopardy! player: It's very smart, very fast, speaks in an uneven monotone, and has never known the touch of a woman."

Dale said...

Cera, thanks for the link. I enjoyed it -- I think maybe Ken Jennings is going for a columnist gig, and I think maybe he should get one somewhere.