One Sunday morning, I had the pleasure of watching an interview on CNN conducted by Fareed Zakaria on his show GPS. He was interviewing Ginni Rometty, the CEO of IBM, and they were discussing the details of IBM’s latest development, a question answering system called Watson. This system can data mine and data process in real time. Now users can extract the exact information they need from large amounts of data by asking simple questions. It is advanced analytics made easy. To be able to ask a question, interpret large amounts of data and get answers in seconds instead of months is astonishing. In the words of Ginni Rometty: “Watson makes sense of large amounts of data.”
But how does Watson do all this? Watson is programmed to think like a human. It observes, evaluates and makes decisions, just like humans. When Watson looks through large amounts of unstructured data, it’s not looking for keywords. It’s reading text and understands grammar, structure, relation and semantics. It even understands industry jargon.
Ginni has mentioned that replacing humans is not Watson’s intent and that it is a tool to “help people make better decisions in their personal and professional life.”
So how does Watson help different types of professionals deal with their everyday workload? Watson can assist a doctor by searching millions of articles to provide the best possible information to treat a patient. Then help a filmmaker come up with a movie trailer by studying other movies and figuring out what people respond to in those movies and then finding these same elements in a filmmaker’s film. With these capabilities, the best scenes are selected to create the perfect movie trailer.
Since IBM has found a way to take control of data, there are some very helpful insights just waiting to be extracted. So many industries can obviously benefit from this system including IT. Common problems such as how to manage support tickets better, resolve customer issues and identify reasons for early failure can now be analyzed and and addressed quickly.
I remember when Google came out, I thought, “Wow, now I can find out anything!” But with Watson, I feel like I can find the actual “answer” to anything and who doesn’t want that?
With Watson, the next big jump in the evolution of artificial intelligence has arrived.
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