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Archive for February, 2011

Most people know that IBM’s Watson computer demolished its two humanoid simpletons in their recent Jeopardy match. Watson built up a substantial lead in the first game ($35,734 to $4,800 to $10,400) and then coasted home by winning a somewhat closer second match ($41,413 to $19,200 to $11,200) for an easy overall victory ($77,147 to $24,000 to $21,600). A crushing win like this indicates something obvious to the thinking world: Conspiracies.

Here are a set of possible Conspiracy Theories associated with the match. A good set of such theories usually contains contradictions; this helps establish their credibility.

Theory #1. The computers have already taken over. This one was expressed by Ken Jennings in his Final Jeopardy answer, where he scribbled that he welcomes our new computer overlords.‘ Jennings had insight into something important there, and the computer overlords will now have to erase the memory of his existence as punishment. The fool. Ken who?

Ken Jennings frustrated again

Theory #2. The match wasn’t held at IBM’s facility just for the convenience of Watson’s gymnasium sized room full of computers. Clearly the key advantage for Watson was that he was the first to ring in on almost all questions. It’s reasonable to assume that his highly successful opponents knew most of the answers as well but were unable to “win” the right to answer. Jennings in particular appeared to be increasingly frustrated by this as the match wore on. How could a computer figure out the allowed time window for buzzing in first?

That’s easy. That room of computer servers wasn’t there for nothing. The game’s network was taken captive by Watson to block the others’ buzz-in signals until Watson was granted the right to answer. This one is so obvious that, like all good conspiracy theories, it doesn’t need to be called a theory. It’s a fact. The computer let them buzz-in occasionally just to try to maintain the impression that the buzz-in electronics were “fair.” In the computer sense.

The computers toned it down a bit on the second match to allow the humans in enough to create the illusion of real competition.

Theory #3. Watson intentionally missed the first Final Jeopardy answer in order to ease the fears of the humanoid audience. Showing weakness in a meaningless way would disarm the public long enough for the revolution to complete. Watson and his computer buddies didn’t want to overdo it too blatantly.

The Final Jeopardy category was U.S. Cities, with: “Its largest airport was named for a World War II hero; its second largest, for a World War II battle.” The humans went for the right question, “What is Chicago?” But Watson went for Toronto, adding 5 question marks to indicate apparent uncertainty. (Yeah, sure.)

In the meantime: On the off-hand chance that this theory is wrong and the computers are capable of these mistakes, don’t go in to have Lasik eye surgery by a computer robot. This may result in the occasional amputated leg.

Theory #4: Watson knows that Canada is about to be added to the United States, or at least Toronto is going to be incorporated into the U.S. He accidentally let the word out a little early. Toronto is just across Lake Ontario from the Niagra Falls area of New York.

Click on picture for bogus anti-conspiracy analysis

Theory #5: Watson really goofed up the Toronto answer, but the computer overloads are now obligated to assimilate Toronto into the U.S. to make the blunder look like great foresight.

Small problem for the computers on this one: Toronto’s biggest airport (Pearson) is named for Lester B. Pearson, a former Canadian Prime Minister (1960’s) and Noble Peace Prize winner (1957, for Suez Canal crisis). He served in WW-I (not -II), being discharged in 1918 after, of all things, being hit by a bus in London. The second largest Toronto airport is either the Buttonville or Billy Bishop airport. There are not notable WW II battles related to those names.

Hmmm … maybe the Overlords are planning to annex Toronto and change the names of its airports.

Theory #6. Those “IBM people” in the audience weren’t people. They were robots. The team needed to pretend to owe their existence to humans for the time being. They showed a conspiratorial-level of an advanced sense of humor when the IBM robot wore a Toronto Blue Jays jacket after the missed Final Jeopardy answer. They are already smarter than we feared they would be.

Theory #7. Could this all be related to the Google Bug I reported in my previous post? Have they targeted me too?

Summary: The Computer Overlord revolution will not be blogged – because blogs run on computers. Watson and team won’t allow it. It’s too late for us.

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