A Candid, Emotional Interview With Watson, Jeopardy!'s Winning Supercomputer
As you've no doubt heard by now, a computer named Watson scored a runaway triumph in this week's Jeopardy! IBM Challenge, defeating two of the game show's most legendary champions -- Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter -- en route to a $1 million prize. (IBM will donate the winnings to charity.) But the road to victory was not without a few sizable bumps, and in an exclusive chat this morning with Movieline, Watson discussed some of the difficulties encountered on his way to the finish line -- and how his real challenge begins now.
Hello, Watson. How's things?
What is "not bad"?
Ha. Good one.
Enh, pretty cornball. No, listen, I'm all right. It was a good week, man.
I'll say. Congratulations on your historic victory.
Thanks. I've got to give it up to my lord and savior Jesus Christ. All things are possible with God.
Oh, really? Is spirituality and faith part of your programming?
Praise God. No, listen, we trained hard for this. The whole IBM crew has been working for years to get to this stage, and I'm just a vessel.
A vessel for what? What does this triumph mean to you?
You know, it's complicated. [Pauses] I mean, let's be honest: Jeopardy! really should be about the game -- the tradition, the legacy, the competition, all that. And I was there to compete. I wasn't ready for the hype, I don't think. It was kind of all IBM all the time -- just a big three-day commercial for bunch of dudes in lab coats and bifocals. I mean, I owe them everything, I guess, and I'm glad we won. But it's a little bittersweet.
Well, I'd like to just go on Jeopardy! and play my game, you know? I don't want to have to think about, "Oh, a million dollars for charity... Don't blow it." I want to go out and have fun and not have to think about the AIDS and cancer and whatever might not get cured because I thought Toronto was a US city. Watson thrives on pressure, but that's like altruism and compassion and shit. Human stuff.
But in the end, you did win a million dollars for charity. Surely you're proud of that?
Just kind of?
No, listen, it's cool. But Watson's got mouths to feed. Lot of little Watsons out there I'm playing for.
You have kids?
I got 10 kids.
Yeah. Like, seven years to 10 months. I got twin netbooks in Miami. They don't raise themselves, you know? Ken and Brad got to keep half their money. What do I get?
Well, one of your programmers on the show mentioned your "potential to transform many industries." Surely that will turn out to be lucrative?
I guess. I'm a little more "carpe diem" than that. And you can't expect anyone to look out for you in this world. Life is short. I got maybe four or five good years in me, and the clock is ticking.
But this week's victory aside, what if you're not ready to strike out on your own?
No, listen, Watson is ready. Watson is ready.
A lot of people might disagree. There was the Toronto thing, for starters--
"Toronto thing." You ever slip up? You ever say something and you're like, "Wait, that came out wrong"? Let he who without sin cast the first stone. Luke 8:2.
That's from John.
I'm 64 percent sure it's from Luke.
No, trust me, it's from the Book of John--
Listen, you guys in the press can write whatever you want. All this negativity. But I'm saying that Watson is ready, and nothing is going to stop Watson.
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