As the pace of technological change continues to accelerate, it has become increasingly possible to design computing systems that enhance the human experience, or now—in a growing number of cases—completely dispense with it. The implications of progress in A.I. are being brought into sharp relief now by the broadcasting of a recorded competition pitting the I.B.M. computing system named Watson against the two best human Jeopardy players, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. Watson is an effort by I.B.M. researchers to advance a set of techniques used to process human language.