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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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  • Business wise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hcs_$reboot ( 1536101 ) on Friday January 10, 2014 @03:21AM (#45914515)

    Will IBM's clients pay lots of money for all that cognitive power?

    While TFA emphasizes the correlation between "cognitive" and the previous "jeopardy success", that jeopardy program was still extremely far away from human reasoning. The answer to that questions is: Of course. The ultimate goal of computing is the human reasoning. Once that step is reached, there is no reason the computer would not be able to improve that "cognitive power" by it(him)self, providing revolutionary reasoning power, thanks to almost unlimited potential hardware extensions which is available to the computer, contrary to the human brain, limited to relatively little progress thanks to hard learning and working.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10, 2014 @04:05AM (#45914639)

    Nah, Google would rather invest more money in schemes to compete with Facebook [] which is consistent with their business strategy so far since they've always made their money from advertising. And IBM has been about corporate infrastructure for a long time. As many have noted, Watson isn't about being a true A.I. It's about being able to fire all your call center techs.

  • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Friday January 10, 2014 @04:19AM (#45914673) Journal

    The first human made computer was the Abacus.

    It was used by the masses (mainly businessmen) to count their money.

    Then came the Babbage Machine and Ada Lovelace - the first ever hardware / software combo. It was an important step in the evolutionary path of the computer but its effect was not as widespread as that of the Abacus.

    Then came the electrical computer, with diodes. It was mainly used by the elites (military / academic) for war / research purposes.

    And this was followed by the mainframe era - where corporations that were rich enough started to infiltrate the "elite circle" and gained the power to let computer automating part of their business activities.

    Beginning in the 1970's the computer started to go back to where it came from, the masses. With hobby DIY kits, with many a hacker burning their finger tips to assemble their own computers, people started to realize and to tap on to what the computer can offer them.

    It was, in fact, the IBM, an elite corporation (at that time) which popularize the computer - by deciding to *NOT* stopping others in duplicating the original IBM PC design.

    This process went on for about 30-odd years and the computer progress from the desktop to the phone, and then, to wearables (wrist watch, head-bands, glasses).

    As the masses started to get comfortable with computers, it moves up-stream again, back to the elites.

    This "Watson" program represents another chapter of the computer evolution, and this time, it goes back to the elite circle.

    So, as we see, the computer, starting as Abacus, was a device for the masses. And then, it became a device for the elites (Babbage machine). Then it became a device for the masses again (cellphone, tablets, wearables). And now, it moves back to the elites.

    Tick - - - tock - - - tick - - - and now... tock

Don't sweat it -- it's only ones and zeros. -- P. Skelly