Feb 16, 2011

Nothing worse than jappery

Category: General

 Just a note along the way. The so-called showdown between human and computer on Jeopardy — (my Japanese mother-in-law used to call the show ‘Jappery’) — was a farce. I absolutely knew that if humans could log in before waiting for the whole question to be asked, they would win. But it turned out, those weren’t the rules. Everybody had to wait until the question was finally asked, which meant that humans — automatically — were going to be slower in clicking in than was a freaking machine that measured click-on time in millionths of a second. Just for a moment, go back, and think about this — a computer “beat” Gary Kasparov, the great grandmaster chess champ, in a five game match when Gary wasn’t well, up to snuff, and it just beat him –3-2 –when he made several uncharacteristic errors. Give me Gary, a twenty-game match, and he will kick the computer’s ass. Ditto today on Jappery. We are supposed to be impressed by some stupid machine that is asked the name of the United States city that houses an aiirport, named after a war hero, and its answer is “Toronto?” Toronto? Hello? Earlier it answered a question about a Paris museum and its answer was “the museum of Picasso.” That is just utterly stupid.

In passing, even allowing for Alzheimer’s, playing this game against the board, I beat the hell out of Watson. Not so good, world; my Mensa days are long behind me, but even allowing for that, don’t count on computers replacing us any time soon.

(P.S. If there are any chess freaks out there, I once wrote a chess-based novel about this subject called “End Game,” under the pen name of Dev Stryker. You might recognize some of the humans involved in it. (But along the way, if any of you try to pick this up in a used book shop or website, make sure to buy the paperback version because the imbecile publishers got the critical chess diagram wrong in the hardcover book. Can you guess why I hate publishers?)

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