Computers are officially better than humans at Jeopardy. IBM's supercomputer Watson beat out Jeopardy champs Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter for a second night in a row—without even being connected to the Internet! A few embarrassing missteps (answering "Dorothy Parker" instead of "The Elements of Style" on a Daily Double) couldn't keep Watson from annihilating his human competition. (See above for Watson's winning Final Jeopardy answer.)
Watson ended with $44,131 tonight, more than doubling Ken Jennings' second-place $19,200. The final two-night totals were:
- Watson: $77,147
- Jennings: $24,000
- Rutter: $21,600
Now that computers are better than humans at Jeopardy, we must quickly replace all human contestants on Jeopardy with computers. It should just be computer-vs.-computer. Maybe a special episode could be a Blackberry duking it out with an iPhone. This will free humans with freakish trivia minds from having to spend thankless hours preparing for and appearing on Jeopardy. They'll be able to use their talents in more fulfilling ways, like impressing women at parties, or helping to build even more advanced Jeopardy-playing computers.
Why stop there? IBM's next task should be developing a Jeopardy-hosting computer. (That is, if Alex Trebek isn't already a computer; it's hard to tell sometimes.) We're looking forward to the episode of Jeopardy where Alex and a gently pulsating obelisk take turns calling out categories and laughing disingenuously at contestants' unfunny jokes. Can a computer out-host a human in Jeopardy? The computer will never stumble over an unfamiliar Eastern European name; it will never tire, will never refuse to come out of its dressing room because it can't bear to face another night in front of the goddamn grid.
Next, IBM AI scientists should develop Jeopardy-watching computers to replace human Jeopardy fans. This should be easy, as it will essentially be a dumber version of the Jeopardy-playing computer, disinterestedly calling out answers that are mostly wrong. Set up a bank of these machines in a super-cooled hangar in Arizona and watch Jeopardy's ratings continue to be mediocre in perpetuity. While human Jeopardy fans might initially be upset with the prospect of being displaced by machines, they'll soon move onto watching television shows that don't rob them of their dignity—like 30 Rock, or even NCIS—their human potential to watch plot-based television will be unleashed.
If IBM is successful, we may some day look back in horror at the days when humans were involved at all in the thankless tasks associated with producing and consuming game shows. This will be a good day.