Now, normally I wouldn’t link you guys to The Christian Science Monitor, but this story is too important not to share.
Yes, next month a super computer will compete on Jeopardy against Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, the two highest earners in Jeopardy history. It’s a high stakes battle between nerdy guys and a really creepy computer that is clearly capable of interpreting questions and coming up with correct answers. I’m almost certain this is how the apocalyptic future in Terminator starts.
Being a responsible journalist, I had to figure out what we were up against. Being that the Jeopardybot is not readily available to the public, I had to settle for another robot.
His home? Pogo.com. His game? Scrabble. Let the battle begin.
Our game begins by determining who gets to go first, and shockingly it’s the computer. I smell a conspiracy. The robot puts out the word PRIOR, and I counter it with the word LIAR. I do because I’m banking on rhyming words confusing the robot, though I have no evidence to support this theory.
Mister Roboto follows this up by playing the word DIN, which means to make a loud noise, such as yelling “Din?! What the fuck does that mean?!” He also snuck in the word AD, because he’s a crafty little bastard. I fight back with the word LIED, hoping to befuddle the computer with words that relate to each other. We hit our first of many intermissions, and the score is Robot: 21, Me: 15. Johnny 5 returns from the intermission with a bang, tossing out OXEN, possibly because he’s having flashbacks to his days a processor for Oregon Trail. I hope you drown while fording the river! I parry his latest attack by playing the word PARRY. I’m so meta. Just as things seem to be going well, Skynet kicks in. The Robot plays the word DID, but that seemingly simple word unleashes hell on me. Check it out.
The asshole places it in such a way that he also gets points for the words OD and XI, all totaling up to score him a ridiculous 31 points. For those wondering, Od means a hypothetical force of natural power. I’m going to need a lot of Od to win here. Xi, is Robot slang for “fuck you” because that bastard plays it all the time in an attempt to break my spirit. Well, Xi to you to Johnny 5. I limp into the next intermission with the word REST, the score is Robot: 63 Me: 37
We return from our break and Assholebot plays the word ECRU, which I take to be him just making up words as a way to taunt and embarrass me. To show him I won’t be intimidated by his tricks nor his cold metallic stare, I throw down HUNT over a triple word score bonus, 21 points, suck it Robobitch! Robot responds by playing COG, a component in machinery, and then turns OD into GOD. COG GOD, an obvious reference to our future Robot Overlord.
I fight back for the human race with the word VAC, on another triple word score bonus, netting me 24 points and bringing me within 5 points of the robot. We come back from another intermission and the Robot plays the word TESTY, clearly displaying he’s capable of deducing the kind of mood I’m in. I am scared for my safety. I play WEB, he counters with TWIG. Robot: 111, Me: 98. I’m hungry for a win here, hungry like a…WOLF. The Robot does not take kindly to my Duran Duran based puns, and puts down another multiword, getting NOR and OH for 12 points and taking the lead again. I decide to insult the robot to the tune of 14 points.
We return from intermission and my cyber friend responds to my accusation.
I think he might be coming on to me. I play PAR and he plays VET and the score is all tied up. It seems questioning his sexuality has caused him to get distracted. He must be busy thinking dirty things about my avatar. I can’t say I blame him, can you?
The robot seemingly represses his sexual urges and roles out a double word LORE and BE. I’m only able to weekly play TEN, and the robot senses my weakness and attempts a killshot with QI, which probably means about the same thing as Xi in robot speak. I shouldn’t have rejected his advances, hell hath no fury like a robot scorned. I’m on the ropes, I throw out the word TOMATO, but it only scores me 9 points. Meanwhile, the robot plays FA and gets 18 points. Fuck this game. I may be down, but I’m not out. I play JAMS with some point multipliers and pull within 6 points as we enter the next intermission. Robot: 196, Me: 190.
Upon our return the robot scores 18 with HOB and TO, and we get a warning about there only being 7 tiles remaining. The game is winding down and I’m behind by 24 points. Checking my tiles, I can see that I have the tools to pull out a victory, but whether or not I can correctly use them is another story. Will I come roaring back and claim victory, or will the scene be more similar to the computer scene in Zoolander, but with the computer smugly smiling at them with cold, dead eyes? I march bravely forward with the word ZEST and thanks to a double point modifier, I pull to within one point of Mister Roboto. Say, do any of you know what ZEK means? To some, it means an inmate in a Soviet labor camp, but to me it means 21 points, and the lead! The robot follows this up with DUE, but it’s not enough for him to overtake me. I’m about to John Connor the shit out of him.
It all comes down to a fast paced battle of two letter words. LA! TI! NU! DE! But in the end, it all ends with AI. Let’s take a moment to think of how fitting that really is. This has been a battle of man versus machine. Organic versus synthetic and it all comes down to AI. AI could represent the organic side of the battle, as an AI is a type of three toed sloth. But AI could just as easily represent the synthetic side as well. AI, Artificial Intelligence, the very kind of foe I am battling, and also a boring movie starring the kid from the Sixth Sense. So, it all came down to AI, but which one?
HEY YOU GUUUUUUUUYS, I WON! Final score, Me: 254, Robot: 244.
The human race survives for another day. You’re welcome. While we breath a sigh of relief, remember keep a close eye on your appliances, there’s no telling when your toaster is going to become capable of cognitive thought. Ken Jennings, the next battle is yours.