Watson goes to school

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Updated 3/29/2011

Watson, IBM’s Deep Question Answering (DeepQA) computing system, tackled Jeopardy!, Congress and South by Southwest. Now, Principal Investigator Dr. David Ferrucci and members of his team are taking Watson to school for a demonstration with Carnegie Mellon University and University of Pittsburgh faculty and students.

The event on March 30, which will be streamed online (link will be live for event), is an opportunity to discuss the future of DeepQA – Watson’s “next job” – with some of the top academics in the field.

What’s next in Question Answering

“I think there are two big areas of future research that need our attention:

One is to learn how to build systems in practical business domains with far fewer resources in terms of time, money and people. We need to build applications with Watson’s level of performance for tasks like financial forecasting and health care, and do it cost effectively.

The second area has to do with making Watson smarter. Watson doesn’t grow up in the real world the way that we do, so it doesn’t have a base of common sense knowledge. That’s one of its weaknesses. An interesting question is going to be how Watson can learn to read and build a knowledge base that’s not just factual knowledge, but knowledge about how the world really works.

Teaching a computer to understand a new domain by reading about it is part of our ongoing research with IBM.

Watson has already vitalized research in question answering. People are starting to realize that question answering can be fast enough and good enough to do real world tasks. That’s going to help us as we apply the Watson technology to other areas.”

— Dr. Eric Nyberg, professor with CMU’s Language Technologies Institute who consulted with IBM on the Watson project.

The Symposium’s agenda

  • Deep Dive into Deep QA Natural Language Technology with Dr. David Ferrucci and CMU’s Dr. Eric Nyberg
  • Watson Has a New Job – Keynote Dave Ferrucci, Chief Scientist IBM Watson with Dr. David Ferrucci
  • Q&A Panel with experts from IBM, CMU and Pitt, moderated by Bernie Meyerson, vice president of Innovation and University Programs, IBM

The panel members include:

  • Dr. David Ferrucci, principal investigator, IBM Watson
  • Dr. Eric Nyberg, professor, Language Technologies Institute, CMU
  • Dr. Scott Fahlman, professor, Language Technologies Institute, CMU
  • Dr. Jan Wiebe, Professor, Department of Computer Science, director, Intelligent Systems Program, Pitt
  • Dr. Diane Litman, faculty director, Intelligent Systems Program, Pitt

Check the complete schedule for times and topics.

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