1 How powerful is Watson Describe its technology Why does
1. How powerful is Watson? Describe its technology. Why does it require so much powerful hardware?
2. How “intelligent” is Watson? What can it do? What can’t it do?
3. What kinds of problems is Watson able to solve? How useful a tool is it for knowledge management?
4. Do you think Watson will be as useful in other disciplines as IBM hopes? Will it be beneficial to everyone? Explain your answer.

In February 2011, an IBM computer named Watson took on the two most decorated champions of the game show Jeopardy, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. Watson, which was named after IBM’s founder, Thomas J. Watson, won handily. Watson’s achievement represents a milestone in the ability of computers to process and interpret human language. The goal of the IBM team, a group of 25 researchers led by Dr. David Ferrucci, was to develop a more effective set of techniques that computers can use to process “ natural language”— language that human beings instinctively use, not language specially formatted to be understood by computers. Watson had to go far beyond respond-ing to simple commands, or receiving only specific, pre- defined inputs. Jeopardy questions are renowned for their wordplay, hidden meanings, and tricky puns, and can deal with practically any subject mat-ter. Watson had to be able to register the intent of a question, understand the language of a clue, search through millions of lines of human language, and return a precise answer, all in less than three seconds. For computers, language processing doesn’t get much harder.

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