IBM's Watson: The Smartest Thing on Earth?

Geek Exchange recently wrote, "Now researchers and students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) have been given the chance to see what Watson can do beyond trouncing Jeopardy champions. That in mind, Geek sat down with the head of RPI’s Computer Science Department, Dr. James A. Hendler, whose research has included robotics, A.I., the semantic Web and Big Data. Hendler offered us a glimpse into the future of Watson, the coming of 'memory prosthetics' and revealed whether Watson would be a good Dungeons & Dragons player."

Hendler told Geek Exchange, "We are the first university to receive both the Watson hardware and the software. The relationship between RPI and IBM on Watson has been a long one. Many of the people on the team were either RPI alums or had worked with our professors. We’ve been talking for a long time about new things to do with Watson. [Such as] what can Watson teach us about how we think? About how that kind of cognitive computing can be embedded in a larger computing environment. One of the things we’re excited by is rapid transition. We can do some research and it can go right to IBM and then out into the world. So our goal is give our students access to something new, exciting, different and see what these amazingly creative young geeks can do. This really is something we feel is the right way to bring a new kind of computing out into the world."

Asked how the Semantic Web will influence RPI's work with Watson, he replied, "Some of what we’re going to be doing is taking government data that is now available around the world and making it a little more machine-readable with this Semantic Web stuff. You’ll be able to ask Watson 'Where can I find data about obesity in Europe?' Tools for gathering a lot of that  information — tying that information  to things you find on the Web — is hard to do. And Watson may be a thing that will really help us get a leg up on that. I have a student looking at how would we tie this thing to Google Glass."

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Image: Courtesy IBM