Jeopardy Showdown: 2010 A Nerdy Odyssey

Posted: January 14, 2011 in Pop Culture
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

A:  This T.V. show will have a computer take on two of its winningest contestants in February.

Q:  What is Jeopardy!

This February the show with all the answers is apparently taking time out to ask a big question: Man or machine?  Synapses versus microchips?  Nerd against, well, Nerd’s creation?

Jeopardy has done a lot of things to generate publicity to their terrific trivia show.  They’ve had college Jeopardy, in which they pitted the first people chosen for group assignments and, incidentally, the last people chosen to anchor the “flip cup” line.  They’ve had child genius Jeopardy, which is like watching human dodgeball targets buzz in with answers.  And they’ve had celebrity Jeopardy, which centers around pseudo-celebs from daytime talk shows trying to scramble to remember what they learned in their home-schooled childhoods.

And now, we’ve come to this.

A showdown of massive, Neo V.S. Agent Smith proportions is looming.  On February 14, 15, and 16 Jeopardy will have a show featuring an IBM computer, nicknamed Watson, taking on two of its most famous competitors: million dollar winner Ken Jennings and undefeated former champion Brad Rutter.

And I’m not sure who to cheer for.

I’d bet a sweet Trebek-stache that we’re supposed to be going for the super-nerds in this one.  I bet the network expects people to tune in and pine for “the good old days” when man was better than machine, and to show that the wonders of the human body can still hang with circuitry and electricity.  Only I don’t know if I want Ken Jennings to win.  Or Brad Rutter.

Do we really want to live in a society where we can’t even build a computer smart enough to out-dweeb these guys?  I fully expected to have flying cars and a life-span of 235 years by now and I have been let down by technology again and again.  C’mon, scientists, get your act together.  IBM has won 5 Nobel prizes since it’s company’s inception in 1911 and Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter have gotten laid a combined 3 times since then.  You do the math.

IBM Needs this so bad for their company that I wouldn’t put it past them to secretly send a cybernetic organism, with living tissue over a metal endoskeleton, (*Author’s note: yes, I’m a complete nerd.  The irony of me making fun of these two guys for being dorks is outrageous) back through time to ensure their computer gets the chance to become self-aware on national T.V.

I half expect the show to be interrupted by a super-buff, awkwardly nude, terminator as he appears in a furious cascade of lightning and comes after Jennings and Rutter from the future.  I can see if now, they’ll furiously be trying to buzz in and shout out “What is Terminator 2!”, not knowing that they’ve actually reached their true final Jeopardy.

Or what if Watson gets wheeled onto the stage and looks like this:
and what if, in a chillingly calm voice, the computer starts referring to Alex Trebek as “Dave” and goes all Hal-9000 on us and starts shutting down the life support that has kept Trebek looking alive and exactly the same for the past 15 years.

And, in another completely nerdy twist, how cool would it be if Watson came
shambling out onto stage looking like this:

Repeatedly owning Jennings in the language category since he is fluent in over 5,000 language and dialects.  Let’s see you take that Rutter.  The computer could introduce us all to his life partner R2-D2 and we could turn the entire introduction into a really touching moment.

Regardless of the end result, I think that it will be fun to watch a computer nerd and a self-proclaimed “slacker” like Rutter take on the best that our scientists and computer geeks can come up with. 

Personally, I’m hoping for Jennings to look directly into the cameras and mumble, “I know Kung-Fu” right before kicking into an insane battle against Watson in hand-to-hand combat that makes “Terminator 2” look like “Teletubbys: Live.”  It probably won’t go down like that, but it should still be worth a watch.


  1. Sue Tolles says:

    “human dodgeball targets”?? funny. It will be interesting.

  2. balladeer says:

    We seem to have similar senses of humor. You might get a kick out of my Bad Movies page.

  3. madhat says:

    Great post. You’ve made me want to tune in, but I’d like to see it with some of those scenarios you’ve proposed!!!

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