Watson represents a first step into cognitive systems, a new era of computing. Watson builds on the current era of programmatic computing but also differs in significant ways. The combination of three capabilities make Watson unique:
- Natural language processing - to help understand the complexities of unstructured data which makes up as much as 90% of the data in the world today
- Hypothesis generation and evaluation - by applying advanced analytics to weight and evaluate a panel of responses based on only relevant evidence
- Evidence-based learning - to improve based on outcomes to get smarter with each iteration and interaction
While none of these capabilities is unique to Watson by itself, the combination delivers the power to move beyond the constraints of programmatic computing. The power to move from reliance on structured, local data to unlock the world of global, unstructured data. To move from decision tree-driven, deterministic applications to probabilistic systems that co-evolve with their users. From keyword-based search that provides a list of locations where an answer might (or might not) be located, to an intuitive, conversational means of discovering a set of confidence-ranked responses.