Breathe Easier, Humans: Supercomputer Watson Finally Loses at Jeopardy!

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Democrat Rush Holt beat Watson at Jeopardy!

Kris Connor/Getty Images

We’ll take, “It’s about time this happened” for $200, Alex.

All good things must come to an end. But depending on your point of view, all bad things too. IBM’s Watson, who only schooled the greatest two players in Jeopardy! history for fun recently, has finally been defeated. And you’ll never guess who beat him.

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Credit must go to Congressman Rush Holt, who is based in Princeton, New Jersey (we don’t think the Ivy league institution had anything to do with his success) and took on the supercomputer as well as professional rival, Rep. Bill Cassidy, a Republican out of Louisiana.

The exhibition match, billed as congressmen vs. machine (and doesn’t that just roll off the tongue?), took place at a Washington hotel on Monday night. Thanks to his acumen in categories such as “Presidential Rhyme Time,” Holt ended the first round on $8,600, compared to Watson’s $6,200. Holt will be able to take to his grave the fact that he not only knew but beat the computer to the buzzer when answering that hippophobia is the fear of horses (presumably that was nothing to do with “Presidential Rhyme Time,” though who at this point could possibly tell?)

The following day, Holt received a well-earned round of applause at the House Natural Resources Committee hearing, before trying his luck with the following funny, by giving a shout-out to “neuron based thinking, instead of semi-conductor thinking” (stick to the day job please, Congressman). Holt then stressed the importance of math and science education to the nation’s future, which thankfully went to prove that he was sticking to the day job.

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But if we’ve learnt anything from Watson, it’s that the machines will ultimately always triumph. And so it would be remiss to not point out that in later rounds Monday, against different foes, Watson ended up with a combined $40,300 to the humans’ $30,000. All that remains to ask if whether, when Armageddon is finally upon us, will Watson and his pals spare or make an example out of Holt’s startling triumph? (via AP)