What's Next for IBM's Watson?

Paul Lilly

We're not sure if what we're about to confess will solidify our status as geeks at heart or if it will have our fellow bipeds accusing us of treachery, but here goes. We rooted for Watson. That's right, we cheered when Watson answered Jeopardy questions correctly and wiped the sweat from our brow when, after starting strong, Watson appeared, well, human by giving quirky answers. As enthusiasts of technology, we wanted Watson to win, and it did, quite handily as it turned out. So what's next on Watson's agenda? Wheel of Fortune, perhaps?

It appears Watson's game show days are over, and the supercomputer's next role could be as a telemarketer. At the very least, IBM envisions Watson being used as some sort of tool in the sales field, as was revealed by IBM Vice President and CIO Jeanett Horan at a recent luncheon in New York City, eWeek reports . It all starts internally, where Watson will first be used to help IBM sell Watson technology to other companies.

"We're looking at a project to do an internal Watson to look at all the information our salespeople need and to take all that information and build a source of information for our people," Horan said.

Where Watson goes from there is still up in the air, though IBM officials have said the first business application will come in healthcare. Watson could serve as physician's assistant or work in collaborative medicine solutions. Watson could also end up fielding technical support calls for help desks and call centers. As far as sales and support go, Extreme Tech points to the possibility of having Watson on the sales floor at Best Buy or support departments for large companies.

Cost quickly becomes an issue. DeepQA , the hardware behind Watson, is not only powerful but expensive. Watson is comprised of 10 server racks with Power 750 servers, 2,880 processor cores, and 15TB of RAM. IBM hasn't put a price tag on Watson, but the components individually add up to around $30 million.

Image Credit: IBM

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