IBM has created a computer that is as close to true AI as anything so far. It is the IBM Watson, and it can do a whole lot for businesses. Learn more here.
Long considered the stuff of science fiction, artificial intelligence is rapidly becoming a fact of life.
Simple forms of AI like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant are already ubiquitous. The progress has been so startling that it has been a source of concern.
Rapid advancements in machine learning algorithms have left many experts scrambling to keep up and address some of the issues that arise in the course of society adapting to new technology.
Despite all of these leaps forward, the technology that currently exists does not really represent true AI as we tend to think of it.
But with the advent IBM Watson AI, we are rapidly approaching the point where these complex thinking machines are a reality.
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Common consumer forms of AI are limited in how deeply they can think. Alexa or Siri can run a Google search for us, but they aren’t capable of analyzing information to provide answers to complex questions.
That is the key attribute that sets Watson apart.
The Watson AI is a supercomputer that combines artificial intelligence with potent analytical software. It is the most complex and sophisticated question answering machine yet.
Watson has a processing speed of 80 teraflops (trillion floating point operations per second). This power allows it to replicate a high-functioning human’s ability to answer questions. Combine that with Watson’s access to a sum total of 200 million pages of information, and the implications should be self-evident.
As impressive as that sounds though, what really matters is how it is applied. Watson is able to answer questions as well as a university professor, but an automated trivia champion won’t likely change the world.
Fortunately, Watson’s possibilities have not gone unconsidered.
Applications of IBM Watson AI
Watson has the ability to analyze incredible swaths of information and use that information to quickly answer complex queries. These capabilities make Watson’s potential utilities nearly limitless.
Watson’s very first application was in healthcare.
In 2013, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center started using Watson to help recommend courses of treatment. With the ability to comb through and cross-examine medical records and information faster than any human could, Watson can make informed recommendations to human medical staff.
IBM has continued to improve the technology since then. It seems inevitable that more hospitals will adopt the practice of consulting AI to organize treatment plans while reducing costs.
IBM has also announced exciting breakthroughs in using Watson for speech transcription.
Speech recognition is nothing new of course. Using speech input for smartphone applications is standard. But the tech has continued to struggle in transcribing casual speech with IBM estimating that most high-end systems only having about a 50% accuracy rate.
Hence why IBM has been working on training a new Watson transcription system. Advances in deep learning software have allowed IBM to produce a system that only has an error rate of 8%.
This does mean that Watson still lags behind its human counterparts. Audio transcription professionals can have an accuracy rate as high as 99%. But it does show that AI is ever closing the gap.
Business-Directed AI Applications
One of Watson’s biggest selling points is the fact that IBM has made available a range of application program interfaces (API’s) for the AI.
These allow users to create their own AI applications to take advantage of Watson’s core technology. IBM has also published API connectors that allow users to take advantage of pre-trained learning algorithms.
These customizable technologies are finding their way into use in everything from image recognition, tone analysis, and litigation.
A Glimpse of the Future
Artificial Intelligence is still some distance removed from its depictions in science fiction. But the IBM Watson AI demonstrates that that gap grows more narrow with each passing year.
It is apparent that artificial intelligence is here to stay, and that it will only become more integral to our lives. To learn more about how AI is changing the way we live and work, check out some of our other articles.