Friday, February 18, 2011

Truly Awesome: Ken Jennings

This past week a very important event occurred.  I'm still geeking out about it.

In the world of geekdom we love to learn random bits of knowledge.  The crowning pinnacle of this geeky habit is the game show Jeopardy! where you win money by knowing the answers to random questions.  Of course, the greatest Jeopardy player there ever was is Ken Jennings.

Also, in the world of geekiness resides computer programming.  I'm especially fascinated by Artificial Intelligence.  I've played around with AI as I've attempted to write computer opponents to play chess or other games.

This week's event was the marriage of these two forms of geekalaciousness.   IBM pitted their super computer Watson against the top two Jeopardy players of all time, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.  To put it simply, Watson dominated. (Watson ended with $77,147.  Ken Jennings had $24,000 and Brad Rutter had $21,600)

But the best part was at the end.  The final Jeopardy question had to do with the author of the book Dracula.  This is how Ken Jennings answered the question.
Who is Stoker?
(I for one welcome our new computer overlords)
Ken Jennings, one of the world's smartest people, answered the question correctly and then added the afterthought that he welcomes our new computer overlords.  Because, he knows, as we all should, that if the machines are beating us in trivia games, we are only one step away from the rise of the machines and the genocide of the human race.  Naturally, he wants to get on their good side early.

So if Ken Jennings thinks it's coming, we should all be prepared for the rise of the machines.

It's coming soon.  I predict April 21, 2011.


  1. The AI I prefer is DATA from Star Trek Next Generation. He could sing, dance, but couldn't tell a joke properly. My kind of guy.

  2. I didn't watch when he was on the show, but I heard all about him. When I read your post I thought, "Is he Mormon? Maybe he's Mormon..." So I looked him up on Wikipedia (the best thing ever, because anyone can write whatever they want on any subject, so you know you're getting the best possible information) and found out he is! That makes me so happy.

  3. Robyn, I'm glad.

    Carol, Data is awesome. Possibly even cooler than Watson.

    Kayli, Ya, he's super cool. He served a mission in Spain and attended BYU. After that he worked as a software engineer in Salt Lake until he was on Jeopardy. He won $2.5 million on his jeopardy run and after that he got even more into trivia. He has written a book about travelling the world and meeting trivia gurus called Brainiac that I will probably have to read. In short, he's the coolest (or geekiest) geek ever.

  4. I for one have believed that the end is coming for a while but I refuse to bow to the new overlords but as far as an Apocalypse is concerned I think I'd fair better if Zombies invaded then a machine up rising. Zombies can die from a frying pan but a robot prolly wouldn't.

  5. I do have a lot of love for Watson, however I haven't decided if I want to try and stop the robot revolution (like john conner) or to welcome it like Ken. I don't really want to be destroyed so I think apposing it is my best option.

  6. I bet you have Watson beat in the number of extended geek words he could use in a story --

    * geeking
    * geekiness
    * geekdom
    * geeky
    * geekalaciousness (I had to copy and paste this one to make sure I had it spelled right)

    Until a system can use all of these words in a random conversation and spell them correctly, I think we are just fine.

  7. I am a huge fan of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy (although Trebek is a total jerk a lot of the time!) I watched when this aired, too. That was also possibly the first time I got the right answer to Final Jeopardy. Jennings' answer was too funny.

  8. I even got into watching Watson and Jennings. (oh, and the other guy) I think Watson needed a body, not just a voice.


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