Has Jeopardy Made ‘Watson’ the 1st Cyber-Celebrity?

February 18, 2011

We probably won’t see him coming out of Spagos after having a steak dinner, or even hints of a naughty tape scandal. But has the TV game show Jeopardy made IBM’s Watson supercomputer the world’s first cyber-celebrity? Have there been others before Watson? Will we see more non-humans ascend to the spotlight in the near future? No doubt that Watson has caused quite a stir, soundly defeating opponents, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, on the long-time quiz show. Watson has certainly done better than human celebrities on Jeopardy!

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alex trebek jeopardy
I doubt if Alex Trebek and Merv Griffin ever thought the day would come when a supercomputer named Watson would compete on Jeopardy.

I have fond memories of the first talking computer that earned a place in pop-culture, the HAL-9000 from Stanley Kubrick’s classic film, “2001: A Space Odyssey.” But HAL, a play on ‘IBM’, was just a movie prop with the ever-calm voice of actor Douglas Raines providing character. I suppose in later years, many would say robots like those from “Lost In Space”, “Forbidden Planet” and “Star Wars” fall into the same category. But their popularity proves that we humans can be fans of cybernetic entities. Is that enough to make one a celebrity, by simply having fans?

You chess fans may recall a previous computer that earned a place in the spotlight, Deep Blue, also built by IBM. In 1997, it took on world chess master Garry Kasparov, winning two matches and playing to a draw in three others. This man-versus-machine tournament did have it’s share of controversy, as Kasparov accused IBM and Deep Blue of cheating.

After winning Jeopardy, and $1million dollars for charity, Watson will find new challenges at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, says a spokesperson from IBM. The supercomputer defeated previous Jeopardy champions, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, showing that the level of artificial intelligence has increased significantly. So have we now reached a point where computers and robotics may replace humans as celebrities? Perhaps we should ask Watson? Just remember to phrase the answer in the form of a question!

Related Articles:

Watson Supercomputer Terminates Humans in First Jeopardy Round

Elementary for Watson

IBM Supercomputer Crushes Human Competition

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Image Source: Nikki Nelson/WENN.com

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2 Responses to “Has Jeopardy Made ‘Watson’ the 1st Cyber-Celebrity?”

  1. 1
    Miriam Says:

    Love Jeopardy

  2. 2
    Sandy Says:

    What is…Cyber-celebrity