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IDG: IBM’s Big Blue hope: How far can Watson go? #ibm #watson #future

IBM Watson is at that tantalising stage of life. Its approach is that of a startup but it’s incubated by the world’s most historic IT brand. It’s in a space where competing companies and approaches overlap and nobody knows who the winners and losers will be. The promise is to answer some of the world’s biggest questions but how satisfying will those answers be? It’s all very promising but who knows what sort of financial numbers Watson will generate. Questions, questions...

What is clear is that IBM is putting a lot of faith in Watson, named after its founder Thomas Watson and backed with $1bn of Big Blue money plus talent and other resources. The mission: no less than to change the world through cognitive computing: software that learns as it goes and can use supercomputing power to answer complex questions and change the world in both small ways and large.

A small way: Watson-generated ‘cognitive cooking’ recipes, analysed by seeking surprising synergies of ingredients and fed to journalists like me at a recent press conference with unusual chemically-inspired combinations such as Belgian bacon pudding. Watson is also being used to answer questions posed by fans at the Wimbledon tennis tournament. On a much higher echelon, it’s a tool for oncologists and, if it’s not yet ready to find a cure for cancer, it’s likely that cognitive computing or a similar approach will play a role in doing so.

I spoke to Steve Gold, CMO of the Watson initiative, to get a catch-up on progress.

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