Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Can IBM Watson gain wisdom?

IBM Watson is a cognitive computing system with natural language based analytics capabilities. Watson first shot to fame when it defeated the reigning champions in a game a jeapordy on live television. Jeapordy is a form of quiz which contestants are presented with general knowledge clues in the form of answers, and must phrase their responses in question form.

The game showcased how Watson is able to handle not just a breadth of complex questions but also understand and respond to metaphors and puns in the questions.
 What makes Watson different?

1) Can understand natural language: Can decipher data from natural language text sources including wikis, web pages, tweets...

2) Can learn from past results and improve: Gets better and able to learn from past mistakes.

3) Is domain agnostic: Not built for any specific area of business/domain.

It reminded me of  the DIKW pyramid and the definition of 'Wisdom' in the context of computer systems:

Wisdom is defined as 'the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgement; the quality of being wise' and it is assumed that 'computers do not have, and will never have the ability to posses wisdom'. With Watson's ability to not just decode data but also make sense out of it and 'learn' from past experience, it looks certain the above rule on 'Wisdom' might soon cease to hold good.

Watson is already helping with:

 * Medical research:
           - Mayo clinic

 * Financial Services
           - USAA

 * Reinvent cooking
           - Bonappetit

 * Personal shopping expereince
           - Fluid Inc.

and lot more.

We might be very close to the day when Watson would be termed as 'wiser' than humans! These are very exciting times ... and a privilege to be part of an era where we are witnessing a new generation of computing - IBM Watson.

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