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It’s been a long time since I wrote a blog exclusively on my own site! But then again it’s been a long time time I did anything 🙂 So decided to get up, dust myself clean, no more turning back & I rolled up my sleeves to pen something interesting going on in the world of Technology. It actually is a shame to miss out and not discuss so many wonderful things going on in this world. There’s a lot of talk on Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Computing, etc etc and one company doing the rounds and literally forcing its way into people’s mind (good job Marketing Team) is IBM and the flagship offering of Watson

IBM Watson, AI, Analytics, NLP, Sherlock

It’s elementary my dear …. 😉

So let’s being with – What is Watson? As IBM defines –

IBM Watson is a technology platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data.”

Simply put – IBM Watson is a kind of tool that would take in any kind of data and give you answers or perspectives that you might otherwise not have even thought off. Some people might cringe that I even dared to call Watson just a “tool” – but I hope I am forgiven….. 

What started as a “supercomputer” named after IBM’s founder, Thomas J. Watson and went on take specific challenges, case in point – Deep Blue or the project of Jeopardy, IBM quickly realised the way ahead would be two-fold if Watson had to survive! 

One was to make it applicable to industry wide problems which can be be sold in parts, rather than a single system, and the other, was to PUSH technology into the market. What one of my former colleagues at Capgemini, Balt Leenman who now is a partner at G-Company, once spoke about – “…. Creating a halo effect on some technologies…”. That’s why the hype around NLP and Cognitive Computing and Artificial Intelligence etc etc! Cognitive computing most people say is “…the simulation of human thought processes in a computerised model…”. Cognitive computing is about self-learning systems that use data, to form certain patterns and process then in a manner similar to the human brain. Cognitive computing is about trying to make human kinds of problems solvable thru algorithms and able to be computable. This is an excellent, although Technical, piece on the Artificial Intelligence behind IBM Watson.

There must be questions on – How Watson works? The video tries to explain well, and there is not a doubt they are trying to go beyond academic research to offer a range of services covering Natural Language Processing, Speech & Vision services and ride on the Big Data Analytics & Insights. Maybe it would be too far in saying Watson is to IBM what HANA is to SAP, but there’s not an element of doubt, Watson is going to be the pivot in IBM’s resurrection in the competition today. 

IBM is trying hard to showcase blog’s on use-cases and to be fair these are some exceptionally complex cases – which IBM has solved, nevertheless, the application into actual everyday life problems is much harder than what is being showcased. Maybe setting more realistic claims is helping IBM more as we see over the last year. If it’s taken 60 years for a problem NOT to be solved – it would be too much to expect a solution in 6 hours. Perhaps Einstein’s famous remark on Artificial Intelligence was heard by the upper echelons at Armonk 🙂 

Instead IBM is focussed on 2 – what I must term ‘Brilliant’ – strategies! One was to focus on the ecosystem, and mind you they’re focussing on the ecosystem of startups, as well as acquisitions (Merge Healthcare, AlchemyAPI, The Weather Company etc). The other strategy, Do a Moore’s Law. By capturing every piece of information, by making people share every tiny bit of information, Watson will be initially trained by “experts” to finally become the Guru it wants to be. 

Watson has it’s visualisation tool called WatsonPaths to show how it has derived answers logically. AI needs large amounts of data and Google, Facebook and Amazon are sitting very pretty in this space. IBM will probably be unable to match either of the 3 – but if it becomes an industry expert – it will mint money in the more expensive and much needed business vertical. To be fair, IBM seems to be transparent on this topic. A little public search and you’ll figure out the costs. In this case – they’re rolling it out for free!!! Well – upto a point 😉 IBM Bluemix services helps with development of a rapid prototype solution.  And then different services and solutions will cost you differently – case in point pricing IBM Watson Analytics. The emphasis on IBM Watson ecosystem was what struck me that IBM will go any length to make this successful.  

What would be nice is to see how Watson compares to Google DeepMind! But then again, maybe these two are not a like-to-like comparison. Maybe I’ll want to write about Google DeepMind in the next blog 😉

The world we are living in, is going thru some very turbulent times. On one hand we are in grave danger, on the other, this is exactly the moment to stand up, spread hope and give everyone a reason to celebrate and do good to this planet. I was fortunate to host millions of people around the world for the incredible World Culture Festival as part of the Art of Living Foundation and it made me realise the full potential of what we can do if we choose to do good, if we trust each other, we hold each other’s hand – if only …..