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jStart Flash

our quarterly e-zine about the latest from the jStart team



Vol. 2, No. 3 | October, 2011

Introducing IBM Watson

By: Chris "Spence" Spencer

You may have heard that jStart was selected to participate in IBM's initial Watson commercialization efforts. For the past few months, jStart has been talking with clients and customers, assessing their needs, understanding their challenges, and, frankly, taking a deep dive into what makes IBM Watson, well, IBM Watson. Now, it's time to share with you what we've learned. At IBM's Information On Demand conference (held in Las Vegas's Mandalay Bay from October 23-27th), jStart will be presenting a session on "What is Watson, really?". There, members of the team will give a high level overview, take a deep dive into what Watson really is all about, then wrap things up by talking about some of the initial insights we've gathered from talking to clients and customers about Watson.

A sneak peak at "What is Watson, really?"

Many people are familiar with how IBM built a system called "Watson" that played on the popular television game show, Jeopardy!. Which lead to the inevitable question: well, what's next? jStart has been working feverishly along with the IBM Emerging Technologies group to answer that question.

Some interesting facts about Watson:

  • Watson can operate at processing power of 80 teraflops per second. To put this in perspective, the human brain is estimated to process at 100 teraflops per second.
  • Watson has the equivalent in memory (RAM) that the Library of Congress adds in books and media over a four month period.
  • Watson can process 200 million times more instructions per second than the retired Space Shuttle's computers.
  • Watson parses within three seconds the equivalent of the number of books on a 700 yard (640 meters) long book shelf...and simultaneously pick out relevant information to answer a question.

Join us @IOD!

We'd love to see you at IOD 2011. Our discussion about Watson, is session #1888, on Wednesday, October 26th from 2:00PM - 3:00PM. We'll be presenting at Lagoon F, in Mandalay's South Convention Center. Hope to see you there!

Can't make it to IOD? We've got you covered.

We'll be sending out only the second "Flash Update" we've ever distributed after the IOD conference, with links to the presentation from the jStart team, as well as our thoughts and conversations from the conference. Expect the update the first week of November.

What makes up Waston? Some new, some old

IBM's Watson intiative One of the interesting things about Watson is how much technology that makes up Watson was already in the IBM portfolio: text analytics, natural language processing (NLP), and semantic systems. Toss in some A.I. components, including a self-learning system, speech-to-text technology, and you basically have the rudiments of a Watson system. Interestingly, jStart found itself to be in the middle of the equation when it came to commercializing Watson: many of those technologies are technologies the team has built up expertise in as we've championed them as emerging technologies into the enterprise.

Of course, the challenge was to bring all of those disparate components together...which IBM Research managed to do with incredible constraints (time, being the most onerous of those constraints). Now IBM is working on turning Watson the "game show contestant" into Watson the business challenge solution. As we continue to move through 2011 and into 2012, jStart will be leading the client engagement side of the process, passing along invaluable insights we receive from these initial engagements back to the newly formed Watson Solutions Group, as well as the relationships we build along the way. Interested in Watson? Let us know!.

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About jStart's Flash

jStart's Flash is a newsletter to keep you informed of the latest with IBM Emerging Technology's client engagement team, jStart. Our mission within IBM software group is to explore emerging internet technologies in partnership with our clients and customers.