Brainy Computer Bested by Former Statesmen

By Chris DiMarco March 02, 2011

Though super-intelligent computer Watson had no problem trouncing all time “Jeopardy” high score holder Ken Jennings, it appears that it can be felled by mere mortals after all. Rush Holt, a U.S. Rep. from New Jersey and a five time Jeopardy champion beat Watson in an untelevised version of the popular television game show held in a Washington hotel.

The 62 year old NJ state representative has a doctorate in physics from New York University and was elected to Congress in 1998. Holt played through the first round of the game with Rep. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana. During his round Holt earned $8,600 to the computer’s $6,200.

This is not the first time that Watson has been bested by flesh and bone, in fact Ken Jennings was even able to best the computer at least one in the practice rounds leading up to the machines Jeopardy debut. But While the computer is incredibly fast on the buzzer and has a voluminous knowledge to advantage it seems that it can get held up by simple word-play based questions, lucky for Holt there were plenty during his round.

According to an AP article by Carrie Schumaker, Holt “built a lead in categories including "Presidential Rhyme Time," in which the correct response to "Herbert's military strategy" was "Hoover's maneuvers." The congressman also correctly identified hippophobia as the fear of horses.”

Though Holt put up a good fight those participating in subsequent rounds were unable to keep up with Watson. At the final bell the computer had collected $40,300 while his pitiful human rivals could only rack up $30,000.


Chris DiMarco is a Web Editor for TechZone360. He holds a master's degree in journalism from Quinnipiac University. Prior to joining TMC Chris worked with e-commerce provider Suresource as a contact center representative and development analyst. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Chris DiMarco

TechZone360 Web Editor

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