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IBM’s Watson loses on ‘Jeopardy!’ to N.J. Congressman

WatsonIBM030111_optBY JOE TYRRELL
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

Defending humans against future Terminators, Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) defeated IBM's Watson in a special congressional edition of "Jeopardy!"

The victory by Holt, a nuclear physicist, came Monday night after the super-computer had trounced other champions of the information game show, including Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, the all-time games and money winners on the TV version.

"I played a full round against @IBMWatson tonight and was proud to hold my own," the 12th District congressman tweeted after his win at the Liaison Capitol Hill hotel.

The final score was Holt $8,600, Watson $6,200. But the New Jerseyan's success was not indicative of increased brain function on Capitol Hill. Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) finished last in the round with $1,000.

Three other representatives, Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Jim Himes (D-Conn.) and Nan Hayworth (R-N.Y.), all lost their matches against Watson. This despite what Holt's website reported as a largely pro-people crowd, chanting "Go humanity."

In salvaging some pride for one of America's three most disreputable branches of government, Holt also upheld the honor of "Jeopardy!" He was a five-time champion on the show more than 30 years ago.

"I watched a few episodes [of Watson] against Jennings a few weeks ago, and I thought I was in for trouble," Holt told the Hill.

In keeping with the traditions of representative government, some of the losers were quick to cozy up to the computer. A Wall Street Journal blog reported Himes kissed Watson's LCD interface

The only physicist serving in Congress — but then, you probably new that — Holt's campaigns feature the bumper-sticker slogan, "My Congressman is a rocket scientist."

He previously worked at the State Department as a nuclear arms control monitor, taught at Swarthmore College and was assistant director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.

In a House of Representatives that includes climate-change deniers and evolution-doubters, Holt is the best hope for dealing with appliances from coffee-makers to reactors. But from here, the stakes only get higher: next up, Holt vs. Skynet.

Joe Tyrrell may be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 
Comments (1)
1 Wednesday, 02 March 2011 12:59
Anonymous
"one of America's three most disreputable branches of government"

Thanks for the laugh this morning. I couldn't have put it better.

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