Saturday, October 9, 2010

So much for the Bean, revisited - technology overtakes "Millionaire"

I've referred to the story before, and some radio fans in the Los Angeles area know it. Back when Regis Philbin hosted "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire," TV star Ray Romano appeared on the show and was asked to name the capital of the country of Georgia. He chose to phone a friend, the friend being KROQ radio disc jockey Gene "Bean" Baxter, well known as an expert on obscure information. However, Bean was unable to name the capital of the country of Georgia, which caused Regis to remark, "So much for the Bean!"

I am Geek linked to a Matt McGee post entitled "How Google Ruined My Favorite Game Show." McGee attended a taping of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," and learned about a change in the game that we know and love.

[O]ne person asked why, before the 2009 season, the show dropped the “Phone A Friend” lifeline. This was a way for contestants to call a friend or family member to get help with a tough question.

“Because of Google,” Mecurio said. “Everyone would call their friend and the friend would start Googling to get the answer. The contestant would be like, ‘Hey Joe, aspirin. A-S-P-I-R-I-N.’ We could hear them typing on their keyboard!”

Mecurio went to say that they want the show to have a human touch — that humans should answer the questions, not computers. So that was the end of Phone A Friend.

This raises some questions about the nature of human augmentation - is Google really non-human, and if so, then are index cards with scribbled notes also non-human?

Oh, and by the way, Google's not the only game in town. Wolfram Alpha knows stuff too.
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