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Of IBM’s efforts to transform itself over the last few years, few have captured the public’s imagination like the company’s Watson supercomputer.
Since its first appearance on “Jeopardy” in 2011, many have pointed to Watson as an indicator of where we’re headed with technology like Apple’s Siri.
If fed enough data, Watson can become an expert on a seemingly unlimited number of topics. Using probabilities, it’s able to work out how different concepts relate to each other and find solutions to problems.
The company has even said that the next generation will be able to reason and debate. Now it’s pushing to get developers to build that power into the apps you use everyday on your smartphone.
IBM first opened up Watson for development as a cloud platform back in November. To encourage its adoption, the company today announced the Watson Developer Challenge, a three-month-long competition in which developers can submit ideas and prototypes for so-called cognitive apps, or “cogs,” that could benefit from Watson’s natural language processing capabilities.
At the end of the three-month challenge, IBM will help three winners turn their ideas into commercial apps by providing them with seed funding, design consulting, and support from IBM Interactive Experience, its new global consulting practice.
IBM has already received pitches for apps utilising Watson from over 1,500 individuals and organisations, according to a press release sent out earlier today.
It’ll be exciting to see what kinds of apps come out of IBM’s challenge. Besides handily beating its human competition in Jeopardy, the technology behind Watson has also been put to use looking at education and cancer research in Africa and even to psychoanalyze people from their tweets.
For those wondering what use a thinking computer might have in mobile, IBM gave an example of what developers might use Watson for during its keynote at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier today.
In a brief video, the company showed how doctors can use Watson to determine the best treatment plans for their patients using a simple iPad app. First, they enter their patients symptoms; Watson can take that info and look through any relevant sources that might give an idea of which plan of action to take:
Watson is then able to spit out the best possible treatment options, ranked by certainty of effectiveness: