February 14-16 on Jeopardy has been Man vs Machine. Two of the most successful winners of the quiz game show, Ken Jennings & Brad Rutter, take on the IBM’s WATSON. The idea of it was really interesting… whether this massive computer (not wired into the internet for instant pull of answers) could beat two, very smart human beings.
I watched the first night, February 14th, and was intrigued. The game show was interspersed with background on the development of WATSON. Throughout the show, at the bottom of the screen, there was a percentage “bar graph” of sorts, that showed how WATSON processed possible answers with algorithms and how sure it was on the answer. Sometimes it was correct, and yet some other times it was SO far off from the answer. More often than I would have thought, the correct answer was the LOWEST percentile. Also some weird quirks or “glitches” was when Ken answered one question wrong (“The 20’s”), WATSON then rang in and answered “The 1920’s”. I missed the 2nd night, but during the recap on tonight’s show, Alex Trebek mentioned how WATSON had bet a strange amount for Final Jeopardy ($900-something) for the category U.S. Cities, and got it wrong with its answer of “Toronto”.
Personally, I think the idea of it was a novelty and interesting, but when it comes down to it, it’s not that exciting to watch. Who wants to watch people compete against a machine who will, often, be quicker with the trigger button to ring in. The fun of Jeopardy for me is to watch and play along! It’s mind against mind against mind. Not mind vs computer memory vs mind. It’s like watching The Olympics, but have humans compete against a robot that’s BUILT to win the race.