I’ve written about IBM Watson and cognitive computing before. Based on the DeepQA (Questioning answering) technology, Watson as an implementation of cognitive computing seems to me like the best technology we have today to realize the dream of truly engaging and intelligent virtual agents.
IBM has just announced the launch of their Watson Ecosystem. You can find more details about the program on the Watson Ecosystem website.
Why is this big news? By offering cloud services that let you plug into and leverage all of Watson’s technology layers, the possibilities for creating smart apps and even virtual agents are pretty much unbounded. Let’s say you have an idea for an app that can help people find ingredients for any recipe. You can tap into Watson’s natural language processing engine so that your app can understand people when they ask for information on a particular recipe. If the Watson content database happens to include a recipe ingredients database, you can license that content for your app. With some programming skills, you can put together a virtual chef agent that’s on call 24/7 whenever a desperate cook asks: “I’m at the store. What do I need to buy to make vegetarian lasagna and a carrot cake? Or maybe a chocolate mousse?”
If there’s no recipe / ingredient database, there’s an opportunity for savvy teams in the food industry to pull such a knowledge base together and license it to app developers or others through the Watson Ecosystem. (Would be nice if somebody could come up with a “best wine based on your menu” database too). There are even more practical applications in healthcare. First responder / first aid advisory apps come to mind. Personal finance apps, along the lines of “what’s the best way to make it to the end of the month on my paycheck” could be of value, especially in the current economy.
People want access to good information and they want that access to be quick, easy, and reliable. IBM’s Watson and the cognitive computing paradigm are the technology wave of the future. IBM seems to be giving us all a way to get involved early and to reap the rewards of being pioneers in this field. It’s up to us to seize the opportunity and transform our dreams of intelligent virtual agents into reality.