Watson on 'Jeopardy': How trivial is trivia?
Update: Watson won this round.
The AP reports:
On the 30-question game board, veteran "Jeopardy" champs Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter managed only five correct responses between them during the Double Jeopardy round that aired Tuesday. They ended the first game of the two-game face-off with paltry earnings of $4,800 and $10,400 respectively.
Watson, their IBM supercomputer nemesis, emerged from the Final Jeopardy round with $35,734.
Even when he bungled Final Jeopardy, Watson (with his 10 offstage racks of computer servers) remained poised. The answer: "Its largest airport is named for a World War II hero; its second largest, for a World War II battle."
Both Jennings and Rutter knew the right response was Chicago. Watson guessed doubtfully, "What is Toronto?????" It didn't matter. He had shrewdly wagered only $947.
The trio will return Wednesday, when their second game is aired. The overall winner will collect $1 million.
Earlier: As the hours count down to night two of the three-night contest between IBM's Watson supercomputer and humans Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings on trivia show "Jeopardy," we ask you: How trivial is trivia?
Washington Post staff writer and 2006 "Jeopardy" contestant Alexandra Petri says that the fate of trivia buffs in a Google world is not so certain.
"Now that it's so easy to find the answer, why carry it around in your brain?" Petri writes. "Rote memorization is a thing of the past. State capitals? Please. The dictionary? You have an iPhone. Libraries? You have a Kindle. With a keystroke, you can answer any question, and it's no fun to be a know-it-all when everyone else is, too."
Ken Jennings, of course, doesn't agree. He contends there's still a value in knowing things and that Watson proves that. "It did make me appreciate the human brain. The protein and salt and whatever ... that little bit of tissue could hang in there with a billion-dollar supercomputer."
Either way, the trivia slugfest between human and computer will be watched closely tonight, and tomorrow, as we watch with bated breath to see: Will Watson be able to answer nuanced questions or won't he? Will Brad Rutter prove he's superhuman?
For now, trivia lives on.
Read more of Petri's thoughts on trivia here.
Content with dumbness? Use our "world's dumbest computer" to generate some D.C.-themed answers during tonight's contest.
And watch "Jeopardy" host Alex Trebek, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter discuss the challenge of taking on Watson:
| February 15, 2011; 8:32 PM ET
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