Television

'Jeopardy!' Suggests That It's Really Time To Start Worrying About Robots

In this undated publicity image, contestants Ken Jennings, left, and Brad Rutter and a computer named Watson compete on Jeopardy! i i

hide captionIn this undated publicity image, contestants Ken Jennings, left, and Brad Rutter and a computer named Watson compete on Jeopardy!

Carol Kaelson/Associated Press
In this undated publicity image, contestants Ken Jennings, left, and Brad Rutter and a computer named Watson compete on Jeopardy!

In this undated publicity image, contestants Ken Jennings, left, and Brad Rutter and a computer named Watson compete on Jeopardy!

Carol Kaelson/Associated Press

The puny humans are on the ropes.

On Tuesday night's installment of Jeopardy!, the second night of a three-night challenge, the computer known as Watson gave a pants-down spanking to its two human opponents, champions Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings. According to The New York Times, Watson was the first to buzz in on 25 out of 30 answers in the Double Jeopardy round, and it got 24 of them right. (Ultimately, Watson stumbled only on a question that indirectly involved Chicago's O'Hare Airport. But honestly, by being completely confused when confronted with O'Hare, the computer only makes itself seem more deeply human.)

Watson has more than $35,000. Rutter has $10,400. Jennings has $4,800. Unless the final round includes a lot of questions requiring contestants to talk about their feelings or about how it feels to wriggle your toes in the freshly mowed grass of spring, things do not look good for our team. And by "our team," I mean "those of us with brains made of brains."

But don't despair. We're pretty sure there are still things you can do that a computer can't do. Can a computer cry at Lost when Jack and Hurley were hugging? Can it giggle when a kid in a Darth Vader mask tries to start a Jetta? Can it care to an irrational degree whether the Green Bay Packers win the Super Bowl? Can it worry about whether it's going to be replaced by another computer?

Wednesday night will tell the tale. But if Watson wins, you might want to unplug your coffee maker before you go to bed, lest you wake up with it standing over you, answering trivia questions and demanding all your jewelry.

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