Watson’s Advantage: Telepathy

Watson, essentially a big fast Google search engine, beat some former Jeopardy! champions. I haven’t written much on it, but I would like to point out an advantage Watson had over the other players: Telepathy.

When a human gets a Jeopardy! answer, he or she reads it and/or hears Alex Trebek speak it. That information passes through the varied input devices and requires interpretation and consideration even before moving onto higher order data processing.

Watson received the clues via telepathy:

On “Jeopardy!” when a new clue is given, it pops up on screen visible to all. (Watson gets the text electronically at the same moment.) But contestants are not allowed to hit the buzzer until the host is finished reading the question aloud; on average, it takes the host about six or seven seconds to read the clue.

The correct text just appears in the search box and Watson clicks “Go.” Imagine the difference between reading this sentence and submitting a SQL query. One is faster than the other, yes?

Forget the buzzer time. I don’t think it’s a fair match until the computer has to optically scan or audiologically receive the question. Just like the humans.