Man v Machine: Watson
Print experiments inspired by games that defined landmark moments in our cultural regard for automated technologies: man’s futile race against their own obsolescence [John Henry] our tentative advantage in creative thinking against mere thinking machines [Tron]; and technology’s trespass onto humanity’s predominate defining element — natural language and communication [Watson].
Though pop culture orients these stories with the human players as centerpiece, starting with the Watson example brings forward the fact that the games themselves are actually meant to test technological benchmarks. It is a reinforcement of the predominant history of automation displacing human work and once-unique human abilities. After all, John Henry did not have to prove himself anew, nor Gary Kasparov or Ken Jennings. Competitions are set up for the benefit of inventors, capitalists, and those with a radically progressive agenda — to measure their mechanical accomplishments against the flesh and blood originals.