Friday, June 18, 2010

It's Elementary Doctor Watson

IBM is working on a computing system that can understand and answer complex questions with enough precision and speed to compete against Jeopardy! contestants. The New York Times gives a good overview of the project. Code-named "Watson" after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, the IBM computing system is designed to rival the human mind's ability to understand the actual meaning behind words, distinguish between relevant and irrelevant content, and ultimately, demonstrate confidence to deliver precise final answers.

“The essence of making decisions is recognizing patterns in vast amounts of data, sorting through choices and options, and responding quickly and accurately,” said Samuel J. Palmisano, IBM Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. “Watson is a compelling example of how the planet – companies, industries, cities – is becoming smarter. With advanced computing power and deep analytics, we can infuse business and societal systems with intelligence. This project is the latest example of IBM’s longstanding commitment to fundamental research and to overcoming ‘grand challenges’ in science and technology.”



This challenge is much more than just a game. Jeopardy! demands knowledge of a broad range of topics including history, literature, politics, film, pop culture and science. What's more, Jeopardy! clues involve irony, riddles, analyzing subtle meaning and other complexities at which humans excel and computers traditionally do not. This, along with the speed at which contestants have to answer, makes Jeopardy! an enormous challenge for computing systems. You can play the New York Time's interactive game to get a sense of what Watson is like.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post a Comment