IT & Network Infrastructure : IBM`s Watson Takes College Kids to School

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2011-04-06 Print this article Print
Watson Goes to School

Watson Goes to School

With a "Jeopardy!" board in the background, IBM scientist David Ferrucci, left, coaches Will Zhang of CMU and Danielle Arbogast of the University of Pittsburgh in a "Jeopardy!" test game against IBM's Watson computer in Pittsburgh. The first Watson University Symposium assembled students and faculty to brainstorm ways Watsons technology could benefit society.
IBM recently hosted a Watson symposium with Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, bringing together a group of academic minds to share ideas about the possibilities of Watson technology in the areas of medicine, law, business, computer science, engineering and more. IBM's Watson computer is a breakthrough in the field of question and answering, also known as "QA." The Watson software is powered by an IBM Power7 server optimized to handle the massive number of tasks that Watson must perform at rapid speeds to analyze complex language and deliver correct responses. At the symposium at CMU, teams of students from CMU and the University of Pittsburgh put their skills to the test in a demonstration of IBM Watson's QA capabilities. This was the first time students had the chance to face Watson's powerful analytical capabilities in a practice round exhibition game of Jeopardy. IBM chose to host the first Watson university symposium in Pittsburgh because of Carnegie Mellon's key contributions to the development of Watson—led by Eric Nyberg, professor at the Language Technologies Institute at CMU's School of Computer Science—and the university's role as a center for computer science research and education. In addition, the University of Pittsburgh has a long partnership with IBM in research projects such as cloud computing, carbon nanotubes, and smarter health care research around pandemic disease outbreaks and tissue regeneration. By bringing this technology to the university community, IBM officials hope to inspire the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs to think about how technologies such as Watson can benefit society. In the end, however, Watson whipped up on the students in "Jeopardy!"
Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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