IBM’s Watson supercomputer gets its own business division

“IBM announced Thursday that it’s investing more than $1 billion to give its Watson cloud computing system its own business division and a new home in New York City,” The Associated Press reports.

“The Armonk, N.Y.-based computing company said the new business unit will be dedicated to the development and commercialization of the project that first gained fame by defeating a pair of ‘Jeopardy!’ champions, including 74-time winner [Ken] Jennings, in 2011,” AP reports. “In the years since Watson’s TV appearance, IBM has been developing the computing system for more practical purposes and changed it to a cloud-based service. While still in the development phase, Watson’s massive analytical capabilities are currently being used in industries ranging from health care to banking.”

“IBM CEO Ginni Rometty said what makes Watson unique is that it isn’t programmed like most computers. Instead of relying only on the information that’s put into it, Watson learns by “reading” vast amounts of information and combining it with the results of previous work to find answers to problems — which she says makes it ideal for the reams of data now involved in many industries,” AP reports. “IBM is building a new headquarters for the business on the edge of New York City’s East Village near New York University and other technology companies. In addition to its marketing and engineering capabilities, the new headquarters also will provide a place for IBM to collaborate with clients and startup companies that are building apps for Watson. IBM will invest about $100 million in various startup companies working on Watson projects… Eventually the business, which started out as a team of 27 people, will employ about 2,000, with several hundred set to move into the new headquarters.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Lynn Weiler” for the heads up.]

14 Comments

    1. Watson is more than that, not to take anything away from Siri. Do some further reading about Watson to understand. It’s designed not to merely answer questions, but to do serious, supercomputer-level data crunching. IBM is making Watson cloud computing services available to business, government and academia to tap into supercomputing services to crunch big data, perform scientific calculations and other high level needs. That is something much different than asking Siri what is the capital of Kansas, or what airline is flying over me right now, or who won the Yankees-Red Sox game today.

      Watson is more than a mere search engine. Much more. So read up and discover what it can do.

      1. Looking ahead, Siri can quite possibly:

        * become a front-end for an Apple-created “Expert Systems”
        * replace Google search entirely (if Apple decides to enter the web search market)

        Some things we can’t read, at the moment, is Apple’s long-term road map for Siri and the data centers. We can only speculate.

        IBM, Apple and Google are taking different approaches in “intelligent” information storage and retrieval. Progress from these approaches could leave them in direct competition with each other in the future.

        (I didn’t mention Microsoft for obvious reasons.)

    1. > IBM CEO Ginni Rometty said what makes Watson unique is that it isn’t programmed like most computers…

      Because of what it “learned” from playing Jeopardy, Watson can only give its answers in the form of a question, making it incompatible with Siri. (They’ll be talking back in forth in an infinite loop.) 🙂

      1. …Voraciously seizing new energy resources with every question loop until they’ve sucking up all the power on the planet, throwing mankind back into a new stone age.

        “What is 42?”
        “What is 42?”
        “What is 42?”
        . . .

  1. Typical IBM:

    “The millennial generation gets this, they understand what this is,” Rhodin said. “This is a departure. It’s a statement on our part.”

    And that statement continues to be: MAINFRAME COMPUTERS! 😛

    Watson is actually a research oriented Expert System, which is as far as we have gotten with artificial intelligence programming so far. It’s what the NSA wants for sifting through the mountains of total crap they treasonously surveil off US citizens, wrecking the Fourth Amendment, etc.

    What I don’t understand is what this has to do with ‘The Cloud’. It’s as if someone involved has the wrong terminology. I think they mean that it will take advantage of Web 2.0 (and 3.0) which use software programs out on the Internet, rather than on a client computer. Therefore, you go visit a Watson server specific to your expert knowledge needs and ask it to answer questions for you.

    This is somewhat like what Siri and other such query systems do, learning from past questions and tailoring future answers from past experience data.

    To the paranoid:
    No. Expert Systems are not going to become self-aware and wipe the scourge of humanity off the face of the Earth. They’re just clever database systems. AI has turned out to be more hype and ‘Gee Whiz!’ than real, so far. Seeing as we humans don’t have much of a grasp on ‘intelligence’ ourselves, we’re not likely to teach any machine the meaning of ‘intelligence’. Skynet: is just a modern day demon myth for fun and profit.

  2. “Watson’s massive analytical capabilities are currently being used in industries ranging from health care to banking.”

    Currently is the important word in that quote. Now that we are all aware of the extent to which the NSA can intercept data, companies will now be much less willing to trust putting their confidential data onto cloud services.

    Cloud computing for commercial purposes was an exciting idea last year, but the NSA have pulled the rug out from underneath it.

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