I watched “Jeopardy” last night to see what all the fuss was about Watson, the computer who’s been coolly cleaning the clocks of previous mega-winners Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.
I don’t like Watson. Seems to me that, although his skills (and those of his programmers) are formidable, they are exactly what you’d expect and not so very interesting, and based mostly on his speed. The most exciting thing about him is his ability to respond to human speech with humanoid speech, to decipher some of the meanderings and indirections and come up with an answer based on the voluminous information stored within his huge files.
More interesting to me is what Watson lacks: emotion, humor, and what we might call nuance. Although I’ve read a bit about artificial intelligence, I don’t see how computers can ever come to have wit or creativity or the ability to understand a joke or make a quip. Jennings and Rutter showed Watson up by clowning around at his expense at the very end of the show (fortunately, Watson’s feelings didn’t seem too badly hurt):