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IBM Opens Watson Experience Center In San Francisco

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Five years after Watson made its international splash by unseating the “Jeopardy” television quiz show’s human champion Ken Jennings, it’s now hard at work in the field.

The big, glassy office building on the corner of First and Howard streets just became a much smarter place to hang out: Watson, IBM’s question-answering cognitive computer system, officially has moved in and is now holding court in its new Bay Area headquarters.

This is the place where current and potential IBM customers can come and see new functionality that’s constantly being incorporated in the well-known analytics platform, talk with Big Blue product managers, architects and engineers about how it can potentially help their enterprises and find out about additional support as it becomes available.

Five years after Watson made its international splash by unseating the “Jeopardy” television quiz show’s brilliant human champion Ken Jennings, it’s now hard at work in the field, solving problems, finding relevant research and applying its vast resources to enterprises large, medium and small.

If you need an answer to any question, Watson is a go-to resource. If you want to predict where a problem might arise inside an organization, Watson is a go-to resource. If you want to quickly scan the world of information and simply want to enrich your own life, Watson’s your guy.

Focusing on Health Care, TED Talks

IBM, however, isn’t intending to conquer all fields of knowledge off the bat; while one can ask the computer system anything at any time, the company itself is focusing the emphasis first on logically important use cases. Health care and TED Talks, of all things, are two of the first ones being examined carefully at the new Watson Experience Center in San Francisco.  By health care is meant serving as an all-knowing resource for physicians and other health-care practioners right there on the front lines; being available via tablet or laptop when the doctor and patient are conferring or when consulting with other professionals is required. Watson can connect dots to make fast and accurate decisions on diagnoses, medication selection and other questions in real time, something that simply wasn’t available previously.

In the TED Talks use case, Watson can be utilized for finding topics, concepts, transcript and photographs from the international knowledge talk series, and information can be found in literally seconds via natural-language queries. All one needs is a cloud subscription to one or more Watson services, and off you go. Go here for more information.

What Watson Is Doing in Security Sector

While the San Francisco demonstration headquarters is focusing on two important sectors, Watson is also busy working on numerous other problems: IT security, for one. Caleb Barlow, vice-president of IBM Security, said last week that 40 companies soon will begin beta testing of Watson’s cognitive abilities in solving security issues that have scourged IT since the internet went mainstream 20 years ago.

“The learning process is going well. Part of this is getting it out there to several beta customers including the University of New Brunswick, Cal Poly University, Sun Life Financial, University of Rochester Medical Centres and others,” Barlow told an interviewer.

Barlow said by teaching Watson to track reports, blogs and other information on emerging threats, they will be able to assist companies facing cyber attacks. “It’s not just about learning the language of security. We want it to learn the language of security in the context of real world environments and the context of a diverse set of industries,” he said. “The language of security in a health-care company like University of Rochester Medical Centre is probably going to be a little different than what we’re going to see for example at an energy company.”

Barlow said cognitive technology will help security teams find and detect cyber threats, but it won’t replace humans. Watson won’t take action against any cyber threat. Instead it will offer advice on what to do.

Barlow said it’s unclear how much beta testing Watson will need before it’s ready to take on the job of combating cyber threats. He said it all depends on how fast Watson learns.

“We are in completely unchartered territory here. No one has ever done this before. No one has ever had a system of this level of sophistication or this level of scale. We are excited to see how long it takes,” Barlow said.

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Originally published on eWeek