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I’ll Die With My Buzzer in My Hand, Conclusion

February 17, 2011

Well, that was a shocker.  Not that Watson won, but that Jeopardy!’s producers and writers allowed him to win.  After all the talk about natural language processing, puns and wordplay and rhyme time…none, zilch, zip, nada.  The questions over three nights of play were as easy for a search engine as a Seek ‘N’ Find is for a barely literate child.  Filling in the blanks in song lyrics, literary character names that pointed directly at the answer, clues so chock full o’ context that they should have let Ken and Brad type into Google with “search anticipation” or whatever it’s called turned on as the questions were read.  There was no thinking or contextualizing at all.  Every clue had a gallon of proper nouns to easily enable Watson to hook the answer quickly. 

So my question to Jeopardy! is: why?  Why did you refuse to include the types of clues that clearly display “soft” processing power, the true test of Watson as an AI and not just a search engine? 

EDIT:  A kindly Redditor has informed me that the categories were picked at random, with only audio/video clues being excluded.  So since none of the linguistically thorny categories made it in to the game, Watson did indeed display a very human quality:  he got lucky.

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