If you don’t know Ken Jennings I’ll give you a little hint. Ken Jennings won a record $2,522,700 at Jeopardy. He also writes a weekly news quiz for Slate, a weekly column for Condé Nast Traveler, debunks myths for Woot.com, creates a trivia puzzle for Parade magazine and a myriad of other interesting things. Jennings’ run, which started on June 2, 2003 set game show records for the longest streak and most money won.

Knowledge is power.

Ken spoke at a Tedx Seattle conference in 2013 about his experience and what it means for us an the technology we build.[gn_pullquote align=”right”]Playing Jeopardy is the most fun you can have with your pants on. The right fact delivered at the right place is power.[/gn_pullquote]IBM built a super computer to challenge Ken Jennings at Jeopardy. The Jeopardy Champion wasn’t too worried because he felt a computer couldn’t possibly understand the double meanings, the puns, and the red hearings of Jeopardy. They called it “Watson”. He had to play Watson in the computer laboratory. Watson had a distinct home court advantage and won the game handily. There was a robot thumb pressing the button so quickly you could hear the click, click, click.

The Jeopardy Champion…

had a great feeling of [abbr title=”falling into disuse or becoming out of date”]obsolescence[/abbr]. The computers are not as cleaver or creative as humans, but they are less expensive. What does it mean to [abbr title=”To send out (work, for example) to an outside provider or manufacturer in order to cut costs.”]outsource[/abbr] people. Studies have shown that our [abbr title=”A ridge in the floor of each lateral ventricle of the brain that consists mainly of gray matter and has a central role in memory processes.”]hippocampus[/abbr] shrinks in people that use GPS. So, what happens when computers are better at remembering things. He says there are two advantages that we have:

Volume: There is so much information out there that you cannot possibly know everything. If we had to look up all the information we needed to make decisions we would miss the important moment and timing.

Time: The power of one fact can be enormous. A young 10 year old girl that saved an entire beach of people from a huge tsunami because she remembered a fact her teacher told her is an example.

In the movies when computers like “Watson” think for themselves something always goes wrong. So, who leads the future? Information is more widely available than ever before. Our hope for the future is to be excited about learning and have a real interest in what is going on around them.

We can live in a world in which our minds are important or one in which our computers rule us and make our minds lazy. It is our choice.

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