And it's true. The humans were amazing.
In his Slate piece, Jennings writes that "the computer's techniques for unraveling Jeopardy! clues sounded just like mine.... I felt convinced that under the hood my brain was doing more or less the same thing." Well, while there are some engineers at IBM who have a pretty good idea what was going on under Watson's hood, nobody could give you a very good account of what was happening under Jennings's brainpan.
Marvin Minsky at MIT says he'll be able to tell us how big a milestone Watson's victory is when he sees the papers (if IBM publishes them) describing the algorithms behind the digital player. But the paper I want to see is the one describing Ken Jennings's algorithms. Watson's processors occupy ten refrigerator-sized units in the IBM HQ and require their own power plant to run. Jennings's processors are folded neatly into a seamless three-pound assemblage of cells that will run for 90 years on veges and water.
Let's go neuroscience, tell us how Jennings does it! At this rate, we'll have a hi-fi facsimile of human intelligence long before we know the basics of how the real thing works.