Wednesday, November 2, 2011

IBM's Watson, a most dramatic advance going too unnoticed

One of the most, significant advances ever in the field of computing is going on, and it's not getting the kind of attention it deserves. The advance is in the form of IBM's Watson program.

First it beat the best Jeopardy players, now today we read that it beat Harvard and M.I.T. as well and is now making the rounds through other universities.

"On Monday, at the Harvard Business School in Boston, Big Blue’s Watson supercomputer took on a team from the prestigious B School and a second from the MIT Sloan School of Management. Harvard’s Jeopardy team held its own and briefly had the lead. The MIT team, not so much. And in the end, Watson took home the trophy, just as it did when playing two human Jeopardy champs on national television earlier this year."

We know of the utility of Google and other search engines, but I suspect not too many see what's happening here and the significance of Watson on the "information age" scene. In the (near, it seems) future, we wouldn't so much turn to Google as Watson for answers to our questions.

"There have been four waves of technological innovation that disrupted the labor market over the last two and a half centuries starting with the Industrial Revolution, and we’re beginning the fifth, said IBM Chief Economist Martin Fleming. “We’re now beginning to enter into, in my view, a period where the economy is beginning to open up opportunities for the deployment of very significant innovation … We’re going to see many new industries get created, radical new technologies being deployed, but being deployed in the context of new business models,” he said."

Thomas Watson, IBM's founder, put it well in one word: "Think".


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