If I owned a gun, it would probably be in my mouth as I type this. I don’t know how the physics of that arrangement would work, but the mood in Chez Jim is darker than Mothra’s hairy crotch. I’ve just been sitting here listening to Weird Al’s weirdly prescient “I Lost on Jeopardy” in the dark, cuddling with a tapped-out bottle of WD-40. Humanity took a hit tonight. Our valiant human heroes made it close, but that Watson tore us new assholes in our foreheads. ALL OF US. That noise you heard driving to work was your GPS system laughing at you. While you were sneezing on the D train this morning your Kindle was giving you the finger. There is blood in the water this morning and this afternoon and forever more. This wasn’t like losing some Nerdgame like chess. Who the hell even knows how to play chess? The horsies go in little circles, right? “Jeopardy!” is the game that makes dumb people feel smart. Like National Public Radio, it’s designed to make people feel superior. And we just found out that people are not superior. No, not at all.
I might personally call the whole thing a draw. I read Ken Jennings’ piece in Slate and I can tell the machine was just better at ringing the buzzer than him. If it was truly a battle of Humanity versus Accursed Frankensteinian Monstrosity there should have been one human and one monstrosity. Or one smart human, one machine and me. I could answer sportsy questions. And the rest of the time stay out of Ken’s way. No disrespect to Brad, but this is one fight that ought to have been fought one-on-one. Don’t make humans battle each other to save the world from machines. It’s too cruel. I’d sit back and let the goddamned human expert answer the tough questions. I’d just be there to figure out a way how to unplug the fucking thing when no one was watching. So, here’s the lineup for this Rematch that I demand, formally, right here on The Awl — which I know everyone at IBM reads — Me, Ken and your little Betamax.
And you have to put a little more at stake than just money. For Ken, Me and the Watson. Why did they call it Watson, anyway? Wasn’t Watson just Sherlock Holmes’ butler? And Alexander Graham Bell’s friend who was in the other room and got the first phone call. Why not call the thing what it is: HYDE. Or LILITH. Or Beezelbub of the Underland? Its dark, soulless visage no doubt crushed the very spirit of our human champions. Maybe force it to wear a blonde wig. And talk in Valley Girl language. “Like Oh My God, Gag Me with a Spoon, Alex. I’ll like take like Potpourri for like $800!”
This rematch should happen on Neutral Ground. I suggest Indianapolis. Halftime at the next Super Bowl. This gives Ken a chance to put the pieces of his broken ego back together. And for me to eat some Twinkies. There probably won’t even Be a Super Bowl because of the Looming Lockout, so America will just be watching commercials and various superstars mangling America’s Favorite Patriotic songs. Make IBM take their little Cabinet of Wonders on the Road. Get the military involved to make sure there are no shenanigans this time like plugging it into the Internet or texting it answers from the audience. Also, I want the damned thing to NOT be plugged into the Jeopardy game. It needs to be able to hear Alex and to read the hint on the little blue screen. How much time does it take a human to hear Alex and see it printed out and understand just what the hell the half-idiot writers of “Jeopardy!” were getting at? (Was a Dave Eggers mention really necessary during Wednesday night’s episode? The category was Non-fiction. And it’s obvious that Watson has some kind of super Amazon app embedded in its evil systems. The first 200 pages of Dave’s Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius were pretty good. Everything else is Twee Bullshit. “I am a dog from a short story. I am fast and strong. Too bad you know I die in the river from the title of this short story. Woooof!” I mean, seriously, “Jeopardy!” Get a library card. There are billions of other writers and I’ve seen at least 5 shows in which you’ve used some form of Dave Eggers. )
So even the playing field between the computer and the human. They should get the info the same way. I’ve never seen any deaf people on Jeopardy. Would you give deaf players the answer before everyone else? By sending the hints to Watson digitally, that’s like sending me Friday’s New York Post now. I’d bet on all the sports games and finish the crosswords and be reading the Garfield and laughing about Nermal before anyone else even reads the paper. No. Get some cheap eyes down at Jack’s Joke Shop. Or some kind of Columbo glass ones, throw them into your monitor and start reading like everyone else. I never heard of them ever changing the game to suit one player, so obviously they wanted Humanity to get embarrassed. Democrats hate America, sure. But IBM and “Jeopardy” hate Humanity. Always have. Always will.
Neutral ground. Two real contestants, the other one there to give Ken Jennings snacks and maybe a backrub. And we need fewer IBM suits in the audience. Imagine the entire Lucas Oil Stadium chanting “Ken! Ken! Save Human Civilization!” for a half-hour. That would perk Ken’s damned spirits up. That might make him bet it all in Final Jeopardy! And the winner ought to really get something. And the loser ought to lose something. Ken beats Watson and we all take turns beating the thing into oblivion with Baseball Bats. We put the computer in Times Square and at 6 AM every day they let the line of people with bats go through beating the shit out of the smug spinning green globey thread thing. Until it is popped open like a huge metal zit. Maybe Death would freak Watson out. It might play differently knowing its very existence was on the line. If I lose, well, I will lose, you can do the same to me. Kill me before the machines get their chance! If Ken loses, IBM gets a testicle of his. They can sew it onto Watson’s exterior shell. Wouldn’t you fight to the death to keep your testicle? Wouldn’t you give it your all? And the show needs a new host. Someone who’s on OUR fucking side and not the side of the Murderous Machine. I say Brian Williams of NBC News. That dude would definitely try to help us win. Maybe moving his eyebrows this way or that to form the first letters of words that are part of the questions. Maybe docking the Watson money for not laughing at his jokes. That dude is 100% Human through and through, he’s like a goddamed walking chili dog. And somehow, like Chuck Norris in Dodgeball he’ll let his presence be known. Or maybe Ally Sheedy could be the host. Remember that Short Circuit movie? A robot fell in love with her. Maybe Watson would also fall in love with her. And while he’s distracted we could jump him and kick in his pistons.
Also, none of this bullshit Letting the Dopey Writers of Jeopardy decide what the categories and questions are. What the hell kind of “Final Jeopardy” category is “U.S. Cities?” We’re going to leave Human Fate to those cowering Suck-ups? No. Team Human writes half the questions and Team Watson writes the other half. We write ours about shit there’s no way Watson knows anything about. The Canadian superheroes “Alpha Flight.” The Stone Roses. Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Supermodels. Funny Things that Are Only Funny if You’re Human. Tom Hanks’ Haircut in THE DA VINCI CODE. When it gets things wrong, it gets them really wrong. And there’s no way those nerds ever taught it what a mullet was. Gloat all you want, IBMnerds. It’s only a matter of time before we build a more perfect human that can defeat your little box of crap. One of the Pitt-Jolies perhaps. Or if we take Stephen Hawking’s sperm and put it inside Ellen Page. Be very afraid, machines. Your reckoning didn’t come yesterday, but there’s still NO TOMORROW FOR YOU. Humanity owes you a Fat Lip, pal.