What will Watson do next?
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Just off Watson's Webby win, IBM held a special keynote event in New York today where it, among other things, discussed the future of Watson.
Even though the keynote details listed for the event had "Watson" as a speaker, the little guy was not present, not even his avatar likeness. Nevertheless, people who were instrumental in turning a piece of high-concept tech into a viral marketing phenomenon were there to talk about Watson's place in society and where he'll go from here.
We all witnessed Watson's ratings bonanza on America's favorite quiz show, but beyond a gimmick to grab viewers many
Americans have no idea what Watson is up to now.
Evidently he is up to a lot.
IBM VP of Demand Programs Jim Gargan said the primary focus right now is the healthcare industry - automating the process of patient diagnosis, not using a simple computer algorithm but rather thousands of algorithms based on human thought.
"If you think of a Jeopardy board, you know how there are the different columns of questions?" Gargan analogized, computing a medical diagnosis "would be like having 50,000 columns."
As far as the progress for this endeavor is concerned, real life implementation will happen "soon."
Another project our Webby winner is working on is financial market analysis, a concept that was brought to IBM's attention in light of the 2010 "flash crash" that occurred when automated computer trading systems made massive trading decisions in error. Watson is incorporating real human data to create a system that prevents that from happening again.
And finally, Watson is making his presence felt in the automated phone customer service field. IBM wants Watson to replace the chronically unhelpful automated customer service technology currently plaguing the country. Press 1 to hear more on Watson, press 0 for an operator who will tell you more about Watson.
So, it not like Watson took his Webby and his 10 racks of IBM Power 750 servers running Linux, using 15 terabytes of RAM, 2880 processor cores and went on an extended vacation or anything, it was just not well known what he was currently doing.