IBM Watson: Ushering in a new era of computing

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IBM Watson: Ushering in a new era of computing


What's next for Watson?

Dive deeper

As a cognitive technology, Watson is a natural extension of what humans can do at their best. Use Watson and see for yourself

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Dive deeper

As a cognitive technology, Watson is a natural extension of what humans can do at their best.

Build with Watson

Start building your Watson-powered app today with
Developer Cloud.
Now open to all developers.

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Build with Watson

Start building your Watson-powered app today with Developer Cloud.

Cognitive systems like Watson are transforming how organizations think, act, and operate. Learning through interactions, they deliver evidence based responses driving better outcomes.

What is Watson?

Watson is a cognitive technology that processes information more like a human than a computer—by understanding natural language, generating hypotheses based on evidence, and learning as it goes. And learn it does. Watson “gets smarter” in three ways: by being taught by its users, by learning from prior interactions, and by being presented with new information. This means organizations can more fully understand and use the data that surrounds them, and use that data to make better decisions.

Natural Language
Watson can read and understand natural language, important in analyzing unstructured data that make up as much as 80 percent of data today. Hear more.

Dynamic Learning
Through repeated use, Watson literally gets smarter by tracking feedback from its users and learning from both successes and failures.

Hypothesis Generation
When asked a question, Watson relies on hypothesis generation and evaluation to rapidly parse relevant evidence and evaluate responses from disparate data.

The Jeopardy! Challenge
In February 2011, Watson defeated Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings in the Jeopardy! Challenge. The quiz show, known for its complex, tricky questions and very smart champions, was the perfect choice, made by the IBM Research team, for this extraordinary challenge. To play, much less win, Watson had to answer questions posed in every nuance of natural language, including puns, synonyms and homonyms, slang and jargon.

Also of note, Watson was not connected to the internet for the match. It only knew what it had amassed through years of interaction and learning from a large set of unstructured knowledge. Using machine learning, statistical analysis and natural language processing to find and understand the clues in the questions, Watson compared possible answers, by ranking its confidence in their accuracy, and responded – all in about three seconds.

Thomas J. Watson
Watson is named for Thomas J. Watson, IBM’s founder, who led the company for 42 years. Optimistic and progressive, Mr. Watson always encouraged his employees to “THINK” – a charge that still stands as the motto and ethos of IBM today.

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