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How is Watson Impacting Businesses and Society at Large

Chitra Mishra

IBM or International Business Machines is a well-known American computer manufacturer, founded by Thomas J. Watson (born 1874-02-17). This giant is also known as "Big Blue" after the color of its logo. The company has made everything from mainframes to personal computers and has been immensely successful selling business computers. IBM has come a long way from co-inventing the Mark 1 computer in 1944 (the first machine to compute long calculations automatically) to their AI and Analytics powered supercomputer- WATSON. If I have oversimplified it; keep reading.

The Watson supercomputer processes at a rate of 80 teraflops (trillion floating point operations per second). To replicate (or surpass) a high-functioning human's ability to answer questions, Watson accesses 90 servers with a combined data store of over 200 million pages of information, which it processes against six million logic rules.

The system and its data are self-contained in a space that could accommodate 10 refrigerators. This computer system couples massively parallel hardware and highly sophisticated question-answering technology (DeepQA). This year on June 11, the world’s only independently judged enterprise AI awards – the AIconics – named Watson Discovery the winner for ‘Best Innovation in NLP.’

IBM has been moving fast on innovation that matters. Some initiatives have conquered the past; others are on the verge of stirring the market. However, the only thing common is that all are focused on one thing: the shared vision of a healthier, safer, less wasteful, and more productive, prosperous and just world. IBM’s Cognitive technology is helping to strengthen and extend social safety nets by addressing some of the key challenges that typically impede provision and delivery, such as data inaccessibility, complexity and the rate of caseworker churn. With this technology, insight can be extracted from existing data to not only develop personalized services plans but also to help understand vulnerability from a macroscopic view. More so, the growing human impact on our natural world is galvanizing nations, organizations and citizens to come together to protect the environment for future generations. It's no easy challenge since the relevant information is often siloed and decision makers are reluctant to act without a high degree of certainty. Despite these challenges, cognitive technology is paving the way forward for better conservation of natural resources, earlier pollution detection, greener choices for consumers, and learning from nature's ecosystems. As far as Public Safety is concerned, early adopters are using these new capabilities to combat epidemics, manage disasters and fight crime. Education’s broad vision too is catapulting into a brighter future due IBM cognitive technologies like WATSON. Many expect an unprecedented symbiosis between humans and machines that fosters personalized, engaging and ubiquitous learning experiences.

The possibilities are infinite, but the minds are just so much. WATSON may have addressed key loopholes, it still is in discussions to whether it is it or there is more to come.

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