IBM’s Watson is a supercomputer that processes at a level of 80 teraflops per second. Basically, it replicates a human being’s ability to understand and respond to questions by accessing 90 different servers with a combined storage of more than 200 million pages of information.
Watson first earned the attention of the world back in 2011, as the “brain” that managed to win a million dollars on the TV show “Jeopardy”. To show off its skills, Watson challenged two of the highest ranked Jeopardy players, and beat them both. Since then, IBM have introduced Watson into a range of industries, making the system the new “gold standard” for processing analytics.
Watson uses natural language processing, a form of technology designed to analyse speech for syntax and meaning. Named after the first CEO of IBM, Thomas J. Watson, the technology was originally developed as part of a research program known as DeepQA. The idea was to design a language-responsive solution capable of interpreting questions asked by human beings.
The potential for Watson’s cognitive computing solution are unlimited. The device can perform incredible analytics processes on huge amounts of unstructured data. In other words, it can basically track down an answer from millions of possibilities. In 2016, for instance, a law firm in Ohio created a legal system based on Watson, designed to work with their human bankruptcy team. The system, named “ROSS” can respond to complex questions in three seconds or less!
Currently, IBM is used in various industry sectors, particularly those that have vast information needs – such as realms in environmental engineering, veterinary science, healthcare, government development, and more.
What Makes Watson So Important?
You may be thinking, “surely there’s other analytics software out there – what makes Watson so important?” The simple answer is that Watson can quickly and easily analyse huge amounts of data, recognising human speech patterns and understanding context that was previously elusive for countless AI applications in the past. IBM Watson uses a host of cognitive learning practices to combine statistical reasoning and data analytics with a host of human qualities like ethical values, and common sense.
Watson is also unique in its ability to deal with unstructured data. According to IBM, this makes up about 80% of the data under management in most companies. Watson processes unstructured documentation and text by learning from relevant materials among millions of documents. In fact, the system can process about 800 million pages of data per second.
Thanks to the system’s ability to process natural language, it’s available for applications that were previously impossible for AI. For instance, in the legal circumstances mentioned above, the company could ask the system to go through countless legal cases to arrive at a result that was appropriate to a case that previously seemed unique.
Today, IBM offers Watson in the cloud, which means that Watson can start small and begin using the system for themselves – paying only for what they need. Additionally, a range of APIs means that developers can begin to incorporate Watson solutions into other applications.
Rob is Founder & Publisher of UC Today, a leading news publication specialising in Unified Communications & Collaboration technologies.