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IBM Supercomputing

IBM Dumping $1 Billion Into New Watson Group 182

Nerval's Lobster writes "IBM believes its Watson supercomputing platform is much more than a gameshow-winning gimmick: its executives are betting very big that the software will fundamentally change how people and industries compute. In the beginning, IBM assigned 27 core researchers to the then-nascent Watson. Working diligently, those scientists and developers built a tough 'Jeopardy!' competitor. Encouraged by that success on live television, Big Blue devoted a larger team to commercializing the technology—a group it made a point of hiding in Austin, Texas, so its members could better focus on hardcore research. After years of experimentation, IBM is now prepping Watson to go truly mainstream. As part of that upgraded effort (which includes lots of hype-generating), IBM will devote a billion dollars and thousands of researchers to a dedicated Watson Group, based in New York City at 51 Astor Place. The company plans on pouring another $100 million into an equity fund for Watson's growing app ecosystem. If everything goes according to IBM's plan, Watson will help kick off what CEO Ginni Rometty refers to as a third era in computing. The 19th century saw the rise of a "tabulating" era: the birth of machines designed to count. In the latter half of the 20th century, developers and scientists initiated the 'programmable' era—resulting in PCs, mobile devices, and the Internet. The third (potential) era is 'cognitive,' in which computers become adept at understanding and solving, in a very human way, some of society's largest problems. But no matter how well Watson can read, understand and analyze, the platform will need to earn its keep. Will IBM's clients pay lots of money for all that cognitive power? Or will Watson ultimately prove an overhyped sideshow?"
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IBM Dumping $1 Billion Into New Watson Group

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  • by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Friday January 10, 2014 @03:43AM (#45914575)

    You're thinking of seed AI: A program capable of self improvement. The better it gets, the better it can make itsself, which means it can thus get even better. A positive feedback loop that potentially leads to something far beyond human capabilities or understanding.

    Watson isn't that. It can answer questions, but it has no ability to comprehend complex problems, and it certainly cannot devise novel solutions. It is essentially a highly sophisticated knowledge-based search engine. Perhaps one of Watson's successors, in a few decades.

  • by pci ( 13339 ) <vince...power@@@gmail...com> on Friday January 10, 2014 @07:30AM (#45915201) Homepage

    IBM has several large customers already using it, they even pitched it to the company I work for. The things they have it doing around predictive analytics are really impressive.

  • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve ( 949321 ) on Friday January 10, 2014 @10:21AM (#45916001)

    IBM is spending a billion dollars on AI. That's serious. IBM usually succeeds at making what they set out to make.

    In the past, that was true because IBM had some genius leadership at the top in the past. I do not believe that to be true today. The current management at IBM has one goal - to keep their stock price high. As a result, they continually gut first world employees and reports are that they are saving management jobs as they send people in the trenches home with a severance package. I worked for a company on a previous job that tried this approach and it was not successful. IBM seems to be a pretty employee hostile place to work in places like the USA and it's hard for me to believe that this bet is going to pay off, but we shall see.

  • by enharmonix ( 988983 ) <enharmonix+slashdot@gmail.com> on Friday January 10, 2014 @11:39AM (#45916863)

    You might actually want him to lie on occasion...

    Watson, how do we ensure freedom and equality for all people?

    People are only truly free from oppression and equal to each other in every way when they've been vaporized into their component atoms. I recommend a nuclear holocaust.

  • by SpaceCracker ( 939922 ) on Friday January 10, 2014 @11:52AM (#45917035)

    Between those piles of stones and the abacus came the Antikythera [antikythera-mechanism.gr] a couple of millenia ago.
    Not exactly a general purpose calculator or computer, but still pretty amazing piece of technology for the time.

All laws are simulations of reality. -- John C. Lilly