March 13, 2013
After famously winning Jeopardy! in 2011, IBM's supercomputer Watson helped healthcare professionals improve the speed and quality of treatment for cancer patients. Now, the technology corporation is turning to the next generation to help determine where Watson should work next.
More than 100 University of Southern California students competed in the IBM Watson Academic Case Competition to apply the supercomputer to challenges in business and society. With only 48 hours to create a new purpose for Watson, 24 teams presented business plans to a panel of IBM executives, industry leaders and school officials.
The winning idea implemented Watson in legal research, proposing the computer build the research for cases. Watson's quick response and ability to parse complexities in the human language would allow it to sort through evidence and forecast the probability of success. By using the supercomputer, legal firms would be able to save money and time, and pair it with smarter outcomes.
Runner-up ideas put Watson in the workplace training employees and helping doctors with patients of post-traumatic stress disorder. All three ideas involve big data crunching and using Watson to pinpoint and interpret key, personal information that can otherwise be time-consuming to filter.
"These students see what Watson is doing right now and think—how else will cognitive computing impact my life and career in the years to come?" says Manoj Saxena, general manager of Watson Solutions. "To us, that's exactly the mindset that should be fueling IBM innovations, and the very reason we host Watson Academic Case Competitions."
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