It was an answer that would put him in the lead, but Watson was yet to answer. The correct answer was 'Who is Bram Stoker?' Jennings got it right, but added a paranthetical aside to the supercomputer on his left side.
(I for one welcome our new computer overlords)
As you may or may not know, brainiacs Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter (uber-nerds sent here from another planet to embarrass earthlings on 'Jeopardy!') are currently embroiled in a cross-species test of intellect, facing off against the IBM supercomputer, Watson.
Yes, we've reached a point in our culture that robots and machines should be considered another species altogether. On the surface, this might seem like just another TV gimmick designed to draw in viewers -- no different than a "very special" episode of 'Two and a Half Men' or those "Who can eat more hot dogs -- a fat guy or a bear being starved in captivity?" shows -- a closer look reveals a competition, the implications of which could fundamentally alter the course of humanity.
The future of mankind may basically come down to a Daily Double about President Van Buren.
Answer: The name of the supercomputer specifically designed by IBM to mimic a human's intelligence-gathering and reasoning skills. And it is competing on 'Jeopardy!' next week against super-champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.
Starting Monday, Feb. 14 (syndicated, check listings), Jennings and Rutter will match their vast stores of trivia knowledge against Watson in a three-day, two-game tournament. The grand total winner of the tournament gets $1 million with $300,000 for second place and $200,000 for third. The two humans have vowed to donate half of their winnings to charity and IBM will donate its entire pot.
He was very nice and cordial, but there was a weird omniousness in his letter, almost a twinge of fear in his voice. Something tells me if we had spoken over the phone or in person, his voice would have cracked more than a teenager tenor in training.
Now I know why. IBM held its first public demonstration of Watson against Jennings and 'Jeopardy!' champion Brad Rutter, who holds the show's record for the most money won and the computer absolutely cleaned both of their clocks.
Reigning champ and record-breaking winner Ken Jennings has been dethroned as the show's highest one-day winner. Roger Craig, a 33-year-old graduate student from the University of Delaware, now holds that title.
Jennings held the highest one-day record of $75,000 for more than six years; Craig's $77,000 win today puts his two-day total at $114,000. It's still nowhere near Jennings' total lifetime 'Jeopardy!' winnings of over $3 million, but it's definitely a start.
Jennings mentions on his blog that he thinks the writers have actually answered too many questions, which isn't a complaint that you hear from Lost fans too often. He thinks if they had left more plot questions, some of the things that happened in previous seasons "could now be explained as the actions of Future Juliet or Future Sawyer or somebody."
Jennings thinks it's smart that the show has the rule that you can't change what happened, because if something happens a certain way it will always happen that way. But I think the show is breaking that rule here and there.
No, no, not to me. For me, the only choice for numero uno is Jeopardy. It's not a game of chance or luck or random spins of a wheel. It's all about brains and thinking on your feet. And maybe having really fast thumbs. Merv Grifffin's creation remains the best gameshow ever in my book.
As I was thinking about Jeopardy, I realized that for me, the best Jeopardy is not today's Alex Trebek version. I mean, it's great -- don't misunderstand me. It's the one I still prefer to watch today, but my favorite Jeopardy remains the pre-syndication edition, the one that played on NBC daytime from 1964-1975. No, I'm not nuts. I have five very good reasons why I prefer the original, classic Jeopardy.
What's going on at the other TV blogs via the internets.
- Wanna save Friday Night Lights? Send light bulbs to NBC!
- Are there cartoons where Sylvester the Cat actually wins in the end?
- Survivor got the lowest debut ratings in the show's history the other night.
- Conan O'Brien and an audience member ran through the MSNBC studios yesterday.
- Did you know Dick Cavett is keeping a blog at The New York Times site?
- Will the final episodes of Scrubs go straight to DVD?
- Jeopardy! champ Ken Jennings has a new book out.
This is either big news for game show fans or much to do about nothing.
The show sent out a note this week that promises something major is going to happen on the show tomorrow (Friday) that has never happened on the show before:
"This Friday, March 16, 2007...for the first time in 23 years, Jeopardy history will be made...it was such a remarkable event we consulted a game theory expert, and he said it may never happen again!"
OK, now they have me curious, and since they mention game theory, I think I've narrowed it down to three possible events.
If I was to pick the Top 5 things I hate about television, the coverage of the NCAA Tournament this month would be near the top of the list. It interrupts regular shows, and I truly don't understand why people get so ga-ga over COLLEGE basketball, unless you went there or something.
But I do like the brackets set up, and we can use it for other things in life, including TV! Jacksonville.com has a tournment of their own going on. They're trying to pick the best sitcom character of all-time and they need your help. Go here and vote for your favorites in Week 1 (the second round is this Wednesday). Make sure you read the directions carefully.
Speaking of brackets, I picked up the new book The Enlightened Bracketologist: The Final Four of Everything. It's a clever idea: get an expert in a particular field to set up a tournament about everything in life (puncuation, sports rivalries, dogs, political issues, etc) and keep on narrowing them down til you get the champ. There's a lot of TV-related ones in the book, including game show catchphrases (by Ken Jennings), animation characters (by New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast), black and white TV shows, talk show hosts, and several more). Lists like these are argument starters for sure, and the entire outcome depends on how you start the brackets, which is rather random (unless you do something like talk show hosts, which you can at least start by nighttime, daytime, or region). Why are certain people/items placed together and not in another bracket? So it's probably not precise, but it's a ton of fun.
[Thanks to Toby for the tip.]
Unfortunately, it's more a good idea for a list than an actual good list, because their definition of "Game Show" is insane. I just don't get the reasoning behind adding moments from The Bachelorette, Big Brother, and Top Chef. Especially when there are so many great moments from actual game shows that could have been added.
Some non-reality show contenders for such a list: From The Price Is Right, recently there was a guy who kept bidding 420 (video after the jump). Going back in the TPIR archive there was the time when a rather buxom woman was so excited to be comin' on down that she didn't realize her boobs had bounced right out of her tube top.
Like a lot of people, I'll be out there today spending cash and gift cards I got yesterday. There are a lot of TV-oriented books released every year, and many of them are quite good. Some of them are downright terrible (*cough* TWOP *cough*), but let's focus on the good ones. Below is a list of 10 great TV books to give the TV addict in your family.
1. Hello, Lied The Agent, by Ian Gurvitz: Excellent behind-the-scenes look at how the TV industry works, from a writer/producer of such shows as Wings, Becker, and Get A Life. He talks about the dos and don'ts for Hollywood writers, pitch meetings, cancellations, shows the journal he kept a few years ago, and even talks about the new shows that have debuted in the past couple of years. Very informative and just really, really funny.
Some of his pithier observations? "That "Frankenstein" is pretty lame, but the head-bob makes it semi-work," he writes of Shermy's dance. "Jumping Joseph on a pogo stick, is this a train wreck. Elbows flailing, wildly off the beat, staring at her feet in sheer panic, she looks like Benny at the L.A. Law Christmas party," he clucks about Violet. But he has nothing but praise for Linus: "Man, watch him stomp, even with the blanket limiting his mobility."
By the way, he mentions an old video that mashes together the "Linus and Lucy" dance with OutKast's monster hit "Hey Ya!" Since the video is fun and I'm in a good mood, I embedded it after the jump, just for poops and giggles.
- On the cover: Borat!
- Take the poll: Which TV characters are so bad they're good? Included are Michael Scott (The Office), Edie (Desperate Housewives), Sawyer (Lost), and many others...including Dipsy from the Tele-Tubbies??
- Which little six year old girl just turned 50 and has a new TV show?
- Is it really fair to call Barbie the plastic Paris Hilton? I thought Paris Hilton was the plastic Paris Hilton?
- Last week I told you about Stephen King's essay about Nancy Grace. It's now online.
- DVD reviews: the fourth season of Scrubs gets an A-, while the 1996 TV version of Pride and Prejudice gets a B-.
- Book reviews: Simpsons veteran Harry Shearer has a new novel, and EW gives it a C. But they like Jeopardy champ Ken Jennings' book Brainiac. They give it a B+, and I'll second that. It's an interesting look at the world of trivia.
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