IBM's Watson Gains Presence at Top Technical Universities

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2014-05-08 Print this article Print

Students who take the courses will begin by learning about Watson and its underlying technologies, including natural language processing and machine learning. Soon after, students will also learn that their syllabus quickly transitions from textbooks and discussions to hands-on engagement with Watson, itself.

Course sections include building ideas for cognitive innovation, fueling Watson’s knowledge with data, creating cognitive apps in the cloud and developing entrepreneurial know-how. At each school, the course will allow students to discuss and choose a data-intensive industry, such as retail, travel or healthcare, which they believe is ripe for cognitive computing. In this stage, students will form into teams and design ideas for new online or mobile applications, which use Watson’s intelligence to provide expert advice for users in their chosen industries.

Teams will learn how to train Watson to adapt to different domains. And they will create and test prototype apps in the Watson Developer Cloud, using browser-based tools and Watson’s API. Then in the course’s final section, professors will guide students to think like high-tech entrepreneurs. Once their prototypes are ready, the student teams will build business plans for how their apps could thrive as market-ready solutions.

“Watson represents a new departure for computing and for society,” Chesney said. “Cognitive machines are capable of learning, reasoning and interacting with people in ways that are more natural to us. I’m just beginning to learn what Watson can do, but I understand that it’s being adapted to assist people in a variety of situations—from physicians making treatment decisions to people shopping for camping equipment online. I believe that Watson’s ability to help people navigate through complexities has great potential for people with disabilities. If we can match it up with the right challenge, then magic can happen.”

This educational move is another milestone in IBM's strategy to fuel an ecosystem of innovators who will help make cognitive computing the new standard of computing. In November 2013, IBM announced Watson as an application development platform in the cloud. Today, nearly 2,000 individuals and organizations – ranging from start-ups and VC-backed companies to established players -- have contacted IBM to share ideas for building cognitive applications that redefine how businesses and consumers make decisions. IBM also recently announced its intention to open Watson to corporate developers, to advance a new generation of apps infused with Watson's capabilities.

"By putting Watson in the hands of tomorrow’s innovators, we are unleashing the creativity of the academic community into a fast-growing ecosystem of partners who are building transformative cognitive computing applications,” said Michael Rhodin, senior vice president of the IBM Watson Group, in a statement. "This is how we will make cognitive the new standard of computing across the globe: by inspiring all catalysts of innovation, from university campuses to start-up offices, to take Watson's capabilities and create apps that solve major challenges."


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