IBM’s Watson is Changing for the Better

Creating Artificial Intelligence that can respond to a broad set of problems is at the forefront of IBM’s research into the subject. Their computer system, Watson, is supposed to carry AI straight into the world of business. The computer is named after the creator of the modern IBM, Thomas Watson, Sr. Five years ago, Watson beat not one, but two human Jeopardy champions on the question and answer TV game-show.

Watson’s capabilities have been broken down into a set of 40 products that offer a more pragmatic application of the technology than the previous all-in-one version. It’s IBM’s fastest revenue generator and continues to grow.

The hype surrounding Watson’s game-show victory seems to be getting the computer system attention, but there is some confusion about what the system is really capable of, as well as what it’s limitations are. New developments don’t have much to do with the Jeopardy stunt from five years ago.

IBM’s CEO is Trying to Save Watson
Ginni Rometty has seen a 15% fall in IBM’s price over the past year. The current CEO is also under fire for a $1.4 billion dollar fall in gross profit in the third quarter of 2015 over the same period during the prior year. Rometty took over the company four years ago, and continues to struggle with turning it around.
IBM currently sells some of their services under the Watson brand. The original plan to let Watson handle problems humans have failed so solve, like poverty in Africa and finding a cure for cancer, has failed. Watson’s services now include online personality tracking to assess mood using 52 characteristics to come up with a decision.

Early Adoption of Watson Technology Yields Positive Results
While some Watson customers still have ambitious hopes for the AI from IBM, most are pleased with the improvements this computer system offers their business. Australian energy group Woodside uses Watsons language programming to search their internal knowledge bases to scrape knowledge from 30 years of projects. They can easily calculate the maximum pressure that can be used in a particular pipeline, for example, by using the vast knowledge accumulated over time by their engineers.
Customers that are willing to put Watson to work in their industries and train it to perform tasks that improve their business will be integral in extending AI’s capabilities.

“Once it’s working, you want to be leading the adoption. You’re ahead in knowledge and learning. Machines never forget.” Shaun Gregory, head of technology and strategy at Woodside

A full audit trail of the AI’s decision making process exists within the system, so any advances made for one company, are advances made to the benefit of everyone. IBM is dedicated to making their processes transparent, which is encouraging to businesses that are willing to be at the forefront of development.

High-end AI is still a niche that belongs to Watson. Image recognition and processing real-world information are integral to the computer’s operations. Machine learning and high-speed unstructured data are still subjects that are hard for most people to comprehend, but on the new frontier of AI led by Watson, they are a reality.