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Ibm's Watson Tries to Learn...everything

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The official Watson logo.

IBM is giving researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute three years to smarten up Watson, the IBM software that understands natural language.

Credit: IBM

IBM has given Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute an open-ended three-year charter to improve the intelligence of IBM's Watson software.

Rensselaer professor Jim Hendler says one goal of this initiative is to use Watson to understand vast sets of open, unstructured data. "What we want to do is use Watson's capabilities to put together the descriptive unstructured part, so the thing that says what the data set does, the metadata--so the data about the data set--when it was released, by who, and for what purpose, and some of the things we can find actually in the data," Hendler notes.

This challenge is compounded by the lack of real standards for data and the existence of few protocols specific to data transfer and aggregation.

Hendler also sees man-machine collaboration as an area where work with Watson could yield potential benefits. He emphasizes that technology such as Watson could help find information beyond the capabilities of humans, which humans could connect to make better decisions. "People are very good at pulling it together once they have the information, but finding those needles across those many haystacks is something Watson can help with," Hendler says.

From IEEE Spectrum
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