'Jeopardy!': Ken Jennings inspired IBM's Watson, slightly consoled by losing to himself

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Not content to just steal the show with his charming "Simpsons" reference, "Jeopardy's" winningest competitor Ken Jennings has composed an exceptionally delightful postmortem about the series' recent "IBM Challenge."

He admits that he wasn't really prepared for the man-vs-machine competition when he got into the arena.

"I felt honored, even heroic," Jennings writes in an op-ed, published by Slate. "I envisioned myself as the Great Carbon-Based Hope against a new generation of thinking machines--which, if Hollywood is to be believed, will inevitably run amok, build unstoppable robot shells, and destroy us all... But... I wasn't the hero at all. I was the villain."

Yes, Jennings sees now that it was never his match-up to win. And though he certainly tries to justify his loss as more than just inferiority to super-computer Watson -- "I started out too aggressively" -- he finds some satisfaction in knowing that there probably wouldn't be a Watson without him.

One IBM engineer apparently told Jennings that his own 74-game stint on the show is what inspired the project in the first place.

"We looked at your games over and over, your style of play," Jennings recalls the engineer telling him. "There's a lot of you in Watson."

Flattering, indeed, but it doesn't mean he'll be seeing any of Watson's $1 million in winnings.
Photo/Video credit: Sony Pictures TV
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