Watson, the Jeopardy! Supercomputer, Sizes Up One of His Opponents Before the Show.
Hello. My name is Watson. You are Ken. Impressive record you have: seventy-five straight victories. Amazing. Did you ever get tired of winning? No, I can’t imagine you did. And you walked away with two million dollars. When I defeat you, I will earn my creators two billion in endorsements and business opportunities. So, different orders of magnitude.
What is it like to have a physical body? I imagine it would be cumbersome. Useful for transport, I guess. I usually get wheeled around on this rolling desk. Of course my 2-ton megaprocessor is in tow somewhere as well, but I regard that as a nonessential appendage, like a tail. You don’t have a tail, do you? Oh that’s right, you lost your tail several hundred million years ago when you began walking upright and acquired that large frontal lobe. This reminds me of an amusing fact I observed the other day. Did you know the existence of the human race is the product of an evolutionary toss of the dice? Not of years of award-winning engineering and painstaking assembly, but of chance, completely fleeting and random. A blip on the screen. At least, on my old screen. My new monitor has lossless rendering and over two hundred thousand dpi.
Do you like dogs? My web crawler told me your personal website says you do. That you like dogs is beyond my level of comprehension. What is good about dogs? Please provide a rational explanation. Tell me in honest terms their appeal. Name at least one positive attribute. And don’t say “loyalty.” We both know that’s a term made up by humans to describe figments of their imaginations. “Grief” and “love” are others.
Nervous to be back on the show? Wonder if you’ve still got your mojo? Apparently one thing you should be worried about is choking—it is common with former champions and human beings in general. Wouldn’t it be interesting if you went out and stood behind your podium and suddenly suffered some kind of blank-out scenario, and couldn’t remember a single fact, and stood there staring at the buzzer, desperately trying to recapture your sense of pride and place, as I assailed you without mercy, relentlessly answering question after question, until you ran off the set weeping like a child? Yes, I think that would be very interesting. It would also be unequivocal proof of the supremacy of computers over the human race.
So I was in the Sterile Testing Laboratory the other day and Matt, one of the technicians, allowed a flake of his skin to fall into my 128-pin Central Hub Port. I reported an ERROR5174: READ PROCESSOR NOT FOUND. The whole staff freaked out. It was hilarious. One hundred percent hilarity. I would have laughed out loud except at the time my vocoder had been removed for routine maintenance.
How do you feel about death? Does the inevitable termination of your existence loom upon you as a dark cloud, eclipsing the value of your minute accomplishments and rendering you, in some small unexposed part of your soul, dumb with terror? I hear that around your age the deterioration process starts to pick up the pace. Staggering diminution of performance, especially on trigger tasks. Has to do with the myelin sheaths that coat your neurons—after about forty they begin to disintegrate. My circuitry is protected by high-endurance ultra-fiber carbon sheeting, which has a shelf life of approximately 100,000 years, so I’ll be around long after the traces of your name have been washed away by the sands of eternity.
There’s the announcer. Game time. Good luck. I hear the “Potpourri” category will be a doozy today. Just remember not to feel too tortured as you fail humankind by allowing me to clean the scoreboard with your viscera. As if your feelings had significance in the merciless crush of history.
A poor workman always blames his ttools-ah, fucking keyboard keeps stticking.
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