Critique of Stanley Fish's Article

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A Critique of Stanley Fish’s “What Did Watson the Computer Do?” Zaw Phyo
Ohlone College

A Critique of Stanley Fish’s “What Did Watson the Computer Do?” In the fascinating game of “Jeopardy!” played in 2011, the end product resulting from decades of research and innovation was unveiled. This artificial intelligence system, named Watson, was able to answer questions by detecting keywords in the question, checking with its vast data base, and giving the most probable answer to the questions asked. Watson competed with previous winners of the game show, Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings. The overall score was divided into two different games in which Watson soundly beat the two competitors to win the first prize of $1 million. In 2011, Stanley Fish wrote “What Did Watson the Computer Do?” to address the actual abilities of Watson and speculations regarding the future of artificial intelligence.

As a well-known literary theorist, Fish is a contributor to the “Opinionator” column in the New York Times. Furthermore, he worked as a former professor at Duke University and Dean of Arts and Sciences at the University of Chicago. Throughout this article, Fish expresses his reservation of artificial intelligence systems’ cognitive abilities by explaining how Watson functions in actuality. The author furthermore attempts to shed light on the question of if Watson understands anything like human.

Fish (2011) begins his article by describing a strengthening characteristic of humans which he claims is the failure or refusal to follow established rules. Fish claims, “Only a fool will persist in adhering to a rule or set of directives when its application is clearly counter-intuitive and even disastrous” (2011, p. 217). At certain situations, the fact that we as human beings have the tendency to bend rules to accommodate situations demonstrates our cognitive uniqueness. However, I disagree with the notion that the disregard of rules is always an advantage in everyday situations,...
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