Webby Awards take note: People are people, computers are machines
The people behind the Webby Awards probably thought it was cool to give
the Person Of The Year Award to Watson
, the IBM computer that beat the world's best 'Jeopardy' players on TV earlier in the year.
They could also be forgiven for thinking Watson was a more interesting recipient than some of the people in the IT industry that might have been candidates for Person Of The Year in 2011. And I bet none of them would have beaten the world's best 'Jeopardy' players although, as is usual with things that are US-centric (like American Football or Baseball), I have a nagging suspicion that 'world's best' in this case means 'best in the US'.
Whatever the reasoning, there is a wee problem with this award. I hate to be pedantic but a computer is not a person. Not now and never will be. It may well be that in the future we can have a separate category for Computer Of The Year but giving a Person Of The Year award to a computer, however bright it might be, is a bit like giving a Firefighter Of The Year award to a Fire Engine.
This was first published in June 2011