iPad-Wielding Watson Outsmarts Fry On Qi

Geek god Stephen Fry beaten in a Turing-esque iPad-fuelled face-off with IBM’s new super-duper computer

Following its appeareance on US quiz show Jeopardy, IBM’s Watson computer has reportedly achieved the far harder task of being “quite interesting” in a forthcoming episode of Stephen Fry’s Qi series on BBC 2, according to rumours.

The IBM showpiece was an obvious contender for the “I” series of the cult show, due to shoot in May, and filming of its episode was brought forward to fit Watson’s schedule. During the show, the machine passed a version of the famous Turing test that measures not just artificial intelligence but also interestingness.

Wrong, but not boringly wrong…

Fry and Watson both communicated with panel members through identical iPad 2 devices, again warming to the “I” theme, and Fry’s love of Apple gadgets. After this, the panelists graded the two performances in three categories, finding Watson equally knowledgeable with Fry, marginally less amusing and slightly more tetchy.

Both Watson and Fry scored well in a question about hoaxes and swindles, in which each tried to convince the other that it was not who it claimed to be and that the whole show was, in fact, a fantastical hoax of some sort.

Panellist Alan Davies, who has also played TV illusionist/detective Jonathan Creek, commented at one stage, “this is about as convincing as one of my shows.”

The completed show is expected to air in the autumn.