IBM Supercomputer Goes to College to Get Smarter

January 30 (RIA Global) Tech giant IBM is hoping to make its supercomputer “Watson,” which has beaten top human contestants on the America television game show “Jeopardy!,” a bit more well-rounded, announcing on Wednesday that it is sending a version of the supercomputer to college to take math and English courses.

“The notion here is that we want to take the Watson system and get it into the university academic world,” said Michael Henesey, a vice president of business development for IBM Research, according to InformationWeek.

Watson, which is reportedly IBM’s smartest computer, will attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, New York. The college received a three-year grant from IBM to work on projects that in addition to improving Watson’s math and conversational language skills, will also work to advance the system’s ability to process the massive amount of images, videos and other content found on the Internet.

Cognitive systems like Watson learn through interactions, IBM’s website said. The system is able to quickly process large amounts of information including textbooks, encyclopedias, and movie scripts as it did in 2011 in preparation for its triumphant “Jeopardy!” competition.

The system is also able to answer questions asked during normal human conversations, something researchers at RPI are hoping to advance by teaching it new words.

“Currently, Watson’s fact-finding prowess is being applied to crucial fields, such as healthcare, where IBM is collaborating with medical providers,” officials with RPI said in a statement, adding the technology allows physicians to make faster, more accurate diagnoses.

While IBM is hoping researchers will find new and useful ways to use Watson, the computer’s time at college will also benefit RPI students. Representatives from IBM said in a statement, working on Watson will prepare students for future jobs working in the areas of cognitive science, big data collection, and analytics.

“The system will be an unprecedented platform to help students and faculty meet the challenge of our university’s motto, ‘Why Not Change the World?’” RPI president Shirley Ann Jackson said in a statement.

Similar to its famous predecessor, RPI’s version of the Watson system can store up to 15 terabytes of hard disk storage space and will allow up to 20 users to access the system at a time.


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