Watson crashes against N.J. congressman

While the super-computer that won on “Jeopardy!” was taking a victory lap around the country, it was smacked down by U.S. Rep. Rush Holt.

Humans aren’t obsolete yet.

While the super-computer that won on “Jeopardy!” was taking a victory lap around the country, it was smacked down by a New Jersey native. During a contest in Washington, D.C., a Princeton-area congressman beat Watson at its own game.

The game that Watson played against congressmen in Washington was not televised. It was supposed to be a friendly game, although it’s difficult to know how friendly a computer can be. Similar to last week’s televised “Jeopardy!” games, Watson trounced his competition, but it couldn’t beat U.S. Rep. Rush Holt.

Holt, who was a research physicist before becoming a congressman, said no computer will be replacing the human mind for a long time yet.

“Nor is it going to replace members of Congress,” said Holt, a Democrat. “We elect people because there is no bank of parallel processors that can balance school lunches versus highway safety versus space exploration.”

Holt suspects he may not have faced off with Watson in all its glory. “I wonder if Watson wasn’t having a low-voltage night of playing with one processor behind its back.”

Win or lose, the Watson games represent a triumph of human intelligence. Holt is using the competition to continue his call for greater investment in science education.

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