Despite reports, Watson did not crash during 'Jeopardy' taping

While early reports from the producers of PBS' "Nova" indicated that the taping of Watson's battle against human champions took more than four hours due to the computer crashing, that turned out not to be accurate.

Correction at 12:04 p.m.: After this story was published, we heard from PBS producer Michael Bicks that it was not, in fact, Watson that crashed during the show's taping. He would like to make clear the following: "I missblogged last night--It was not Watson, but the system that was the interface between Watson and the Jeopardy computer, completely separate from Watson, that crashed during the taping."

It's been a little difficult coming to terms with the end of civilization.

Watching IBM's Watson last night make spaghetti bolognese out of the silent lambs of humanity--former "Jeopardy" kings Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter--was a troubling experience.

However, I have awoken to a little hope for the imperfect species.

The PBS "Nova" team happened to produce a very fine documentary on Watson's road to hegemony. The "Nova" producers, Michael Bicks and Julia Cort, then helpfully answered questions on the "Nova" Web page about the IBM Challenge.

Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

They revealed that Watson's performance wasn't quite as slick as it might have appeared in the precious few minutes of screen time we were offered.

Indeed, according to Bicks, Watson had serious performance issues.

"He crashed a bunch of times," he said. "It took over four hours to tape the show--most of the delays were due to crashes."

Though I know every game show has its pauses, glitches, retakes, makeup snafus, and sneezes, it does seem that the presentation of Watson's smack-down performance of last night hides a brittle constitution.

One can only imagine what tonight's denouement might hold. Perhaps a Sally Field moment. "They love me! Those dumb humans! They really love me!"

 

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