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Yesterday, Watson the genius supercomputer demolished his puny human counterparts on Jeopardy. By a lot. Are we doomed? Possibly! But you don’t have to submit to your robot overlords just yet! FC contributing writer Greg Lindsay took on the computer a year ago—and won. There were some differences, sure, but check out his take on how he outsmarted a computer that could crush most normal humans (mentally, because it’s smart, and physically, because it’s big and could fall on us).


First, I assumed he’d be impossible to beat on the buzzer, which had never been my strong suit, anyway. Instead, I took a page from The Princess Bride (the book, not the movie), specifically Inigo Montoya’s duel against the Man in Black. As long as Montoya was able to keep the fight on rocky terrain, his defensive prowess awarded him the advantage. Once the Man in Black maneuvered him onto open ground, however, Montoya’s was overwhelmed by his speed. So it would go with Watson, I figured. Binary relationships—countries and their capitals, for instance—would be easy for him to figure out, and he would beat me to the buzz every time. So I had to steer him into categories full of what I called “semantic difficulty”—where the clues’ wordplay would trip him up. I would have to outthink him.
Second, I would need to find and win the Daily Doubles to deny Watson a coup de graceand to keep pace in what I figured would be a losing war of attrition. (This was based on personal experience—I had rallied from last place to win my first Jeopardy! match only after a Daily Double on the very last clue.)
Finally, I had to be in the lead heading into Final Jeopardy. If Watson could confidently decide on an answer in only three seconds, I shuddered to think how infallible he would be given all of thirty.



Ooooooo! How will he do it? Click through and read.

Yesterday, Watson the genius supercomputer demolished his puny human counterparts on Jeopardy. By a lot. Are we doomed? Possibly! But you don’t have to submit to your robot overlords just yet! FC contributing writer Greg Lindsay took on the computer a year ago—and won. There were some differences, sure, but check out his take on how he outsmarted a computer that could crush most normal humans (mentally, because it’s smart, and physically, because it’s big and could fall on us).

First, I assumed he’d be impossible to beat on the buzzer, which had never been my strong suit, anyway. Instead, I took a page from The Princess Bride (the book, not the movie), specifically Inigo Montoya’s duel against the Man in Black. As long as Montoya was able to keep the fight on rocky terrain, his defensive prowess awarded him the advantage. Once the Man in Black maneuvered him onto open ground, however, Montoya’s was overwhelmed by his speed. So it would go with Watson, I figured. Binary relationships—countries and their capitals, for instance—would be easy for him to figure out, and he would beat me to the buzz every time. So I had to steer him into categories full of what I called “semantic difficulty”—where the clues’ wordplay would trip him up. I would have to outthink him.

Second, I would need to find and win the Daily Doubles to deny Watson a coup de graceand to keep pace in what I figured would be a losing war of attrition. (This was based on personal experience—I had rallied from last place to win my first Jeopardy! match only after a Daily Double on the very last clue.)

Finally, I had to be in the lead heading into Final Jeopardy. If Watson could confidently decide on an answer in only three seconds, I shuddered to think how infallible he would be given all of thirty.

Ooooooo! How will he do it? Click through and read.