That Does Not Compute

16 Feb

I watched a computer named Watson clobber two over-matched human contestants on Jeopardy last night.  And I wasn’t alone.  This techno-gimmick got the long-running academic game show its highest ratings in four years.  The point was to show us all how far technology has come, that a computer can be programmed to be expert in such diverse subjects as American slang and pop culture.  The audience went crazy every time the computer got an answer right and even Alex Trebek was excited.  (For Alex.)

Me, on the other hand?  I found the whole spectacle quite depressing.  Now I love computers as much as the next person.  After all, there would be no girlsbestphriend without them. But isn’t anything sacred?  I mean why does a computer have to play Jeopardy anyway?  Even “Brainiac” contestant Ken Jennings was humiliated, standing there stoically as Watson answered question after question.

Let me tell you it was painful to watch.  If you don’t believe me, you can catch the third and final episode of this ratings stunt turned slaughter tonight.  But be forewarned, it’s not for the squeamish.

OK, sorry about the rant but it was a slow day in the Grapefruit League and a blog is a dangerous thing!  But watch now as I segue gracefully back to my theme.

One more thing I love about baseball?  A computer can never be taught to hit a split-finger fastball or to start a 6-4-3 double play from deep in the hole.  A computer can never learn how to enjoy a hot dog on a beautiful Spring day or to root so hard for a team that it hurts.  I take great comfort in that.

And I may need it.

I’ll be watching tonight waving my rally towel, rooting the nerdy humans on.  Yes, the odds are stacked against them but that’s why they play the games, right?

Man, I need baseball.

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