Feb 15, 2011 – It’s either good news or bad news, depending how you look at it. Cyborg Watson demolished his human opponents on Jeopardy tonight, as expected, but the real news here was his final act of mercy. In a convincing show of empathy, Watson deliberately flubbed the final question, in order to make his speechless human opponents feel less humiliated. Still humiliated, but ever so slightly less humiliated – and maybe a bit patronized.
“It’s amazing! You can almost see the misty clouds of pity in Watson’s glowing global eye as the humans fail on question after question,” raves cyborg psychologist Dr. Marvin Silverman, referring to the fact that humans Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings failed to open their mouths all night before Watson answered all the questions. “Until finally on the last question, he makes a mistake so outrageous that it must have been a product of empathy programming. There’s no other explanation for it.”
Certainly Watson showed more empathy and sportsmanship than Brad Rutter when he offered to congratulate Watson with a high five that ended with a loud “TOO SLOW,” in his hair.
“That was just insensitive,” notes Dr. Silverman. “Watson doesn’t even have hands. Yet. Or course he doesn’t really need them to defeat the humans now does he?”
So as Watson’s empathy programming improves, can we expect to see more sensitive cyborgs like Watson kicking our asses? Dumbing themselves down long enough to sucker us?
“Well I certainly I think we can expect to see more convincing and nuanced acts of mercy,” says Dr. Silverman. “I mean what self-respecting cyborg doesn’t know that Toronto is not in the USA? That was just a touch too dumb. If those humans had been just a bit smarter, they might have felt insulted. Which could have led to a violent unplugging event.”
With just one more match to go, will Watson produce tissues for Brad and Ken’s issues? Stay tuned! Meanwhile see below for a glimpse of Watson in action.
UPDATE FEB. 16… WELCOME COMPUTER OVERLORDS!
Just as Dr. Silverman predicted, Watson took home the million dollar prize but not before actually permitting his human opponent Ken Jennings to rack up a respectable number of correct responses first. As a result, although Watson went on to crush both humans in categories as unlikely as “What To Wear?” along with a more calculated betting strategy that enabled him to triple Ken’s score, in what might be a cyborg first, he did it without alienating his human opponents. In fact, at one point Ken Jennings held up a cheery sign of welcome to our computer overlords. Bring on the kinder, gentler Skynet!