(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) drew headlines last week as something of a savior for humanity, with his victory over IBM supercomputer Watson in an exhibition round of Jeopardy!
Holt, a five-time Jeopardy! champion back when that was the limit, pointed out on ABC's "Top Line" Wednesday that it was only a demonstration game, and that Watson may not have been trying its hardest: "I'm not sure that Watson wasn't operating on low voltage that night."
But there's a larger point to the experiment, he said: "I was there for a purpose, and so was IBM," said Holt. "The reason they spent five years developing a computer to play a game was to demonstrate what goes into research. And that's why I was there, too."
The technological prowess displayed by Watson, Holt said, shows the importance of public investment in research.
"What's happening now in Congress, we saw this with the HR 1 spending bill for the rest of this year that passed the House of Representatives -- they just want to cut everything, regardless of whether it's going to produce jobs in the future, regardless of whether it's going to produce jobs in the short run," he said. "The reason I played this game was to highlight what comes from thoughtful research."
Watson, he said, is a "tool" that should be celebrated: "It's a tool that has been built by human ingenuity, and that's the kind of thing we want to invest in. That's what builds our economy, that is what has made America great over the decades. And it's true."
"It's science education that underlies that. So we mustn't either vilify teachers or cut the very source of our innovation which is the education in our schools."
We also got Holt's take on some college basketball news -- Holt represents Princeton, N.J., in Congress, and is a former director at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.
His call in Saturday's playoff, to determine who will represent the Ivy League in the NCAA Tournament? "Tigers. They beat Penn yesterday. They're on their way. I don't know how they'll do against Duke in the Final Four, but watch Princeton."
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