Ken Jennings says the writers for Jeopardy! are far too integral to be replaced with artificial intelligence.
Many people are worrying about AI being used to replace their job, especially writers. Ken Jennings recently made his stance known on the possibility of AI writing clues for Jeopardy! and he’s on the side of human-written clues, unsurprisingly. In an interview with the New Yorker, Jennings said, “The writers are the engine that runs Jeopardy! More than the contestants, more than the host, it’s a show about the words,” adding, “It’s almost like each one is a little haiku or a villanelle, engineered to try to get the player to exactly the right degree of difficulty and proximity.” (via Yahoo! Entertainment)
While Ken Jennings is clearly in favor of human-written clues, Jeopardy! crew members and writers probably aren’t too happy with his choice to finish hosting some pre-written episodes while the Writer’s Guild of America strike rages on. The writers on the long-running game show joined the picket line over a month ago, and Jennings’ fellow co-host Mayim Bialik exited the season in solidarity with the writers. The trivia show is about to go on summer hiatus, so the WGA strike may not affect future episodes of the show, but it all depends on if negotiations get settled before the next season begins.
In either case, Ken Jennings is certainly right that Jeopardy! clue writers have nuance to their clues that ChatGPT wouldn’t be able to capture. Often, these clues have small hints in them or nuanced ways of asking a question that can help contestants or those watching at home come up with the answer. The use of AI in Hollywood is one of the big reasons that the negotiations fell apart between the WGA and the studios represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.
While Ken Jennings and Jeopardy! writers (along with just about every other writer in Hollywood) would rather their jobs don’t get replaced by AI, there are plenty of studios that would likely take advantage of AI technology to cut writer costs. The other big sticking points in the negotiations included wage increases, better benefits, streaming rights, and minimum size for TV writers’ rooms, and set a minimum duration. Both parties seem to be pretty far apart in the negotiating room, so there’s a chance this strike could go on for quite a bit longer.
Back in 2007, the WGA went on strike over the rights to content being sold online through platforms like iTunes. That strike lasted over three months and it’s possible that this strike could very well bleed into the next season of Jeopardy! if it lasts for a similar amount of time or longer. For now, there doesn’t seem to be a set date for WGA to return to the negotiating table, so there’s no telling when the strike might be over.
Regardless, it seems like both Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik are on the side of the Jeopardy! writers. AI-generated clues for the prestigious and long-running game show would certainly give the show a weird feeling, and the clues would undoubtedly be all the worse for it. As much as Jeopardy! fans like to sometimes complain about the post-Alex Trebek show, it’s pretty safe to say none of them would be happy with ChatGPT clues.