“I never get your limits, Watson. There are unexplored possibilities about you.”
– Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes, I suspect, would have despised the computerized Watson on display this week on “Jeopardy.” The machine proved to be everything that the fictional Holmes prided himself on being — coldly calculating, decisive and unemotional — 0nly much more so.
As Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, the two most decorated human champions in “Jeopardy” history, looked on in frustration, the IBM computer buzzed in first on question after question, answering most of them correctly and leaving millions in the television audience aghast that their fellow carbon-based life forms had been bested so easily.
It’s a funny thing: We don’t feel challenged by machines that are stronger than we are, or faster than we are. But we can get a little nervous about machines that we suspect might outsmart us. Intelligence is supposed to define us as a species — that’s why we’ve branded ourselves “Homo