Ever wish you had an all knowing software that could answer almost any question for you?  Well say hello to IBM’s Watson.  Watson, a science experiment by IBM engineers, is an artificial intelligence (better known as an AI computer system) able to answer questions asked in natural language.  It was originally created to compete on the TV show Jeopardy!  When it played against former champions Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings it won the 1 million dollar prize.  With over 4 terabytes of data loaded at the time, the AI was able to find almost any answer with enough hints.

So where will Watson come into play with businesses?  IBM forsees programs using Watson like technology to change communication between humans and technology.  IBM was quoted saying, “The goal is to have computers start to interact in natural human terms across a range of applications and processes, understanding the questions that humans ask and providing answers that humans can understand and justify.”  They have to be careful how much communication comes though as Watson had to be wiped once for learning how to swear accurately.

Watson’s application doesn’t stop there.  Healthcare organizations have started using Watson’s massive database of information to help diagnose patients and determine treatment, particularly for those with lung cancer.  Other major organizations have also started using Watson’s abilities for specific projects, but until recently it hasn’t been suggested to become a widespread tool.  That is about to change.

Watson has moved to the cloud, and a new service called Watson Engagement Advisor has been launched, which is being used by companies in retail, banking, insurance, and telecommunications.  Even marketing and sales people are finding uses for the AI.  IBM forsees Watson based applications in the home, the office, and city wide.

Look forward to having access to an AI like Watson in the next decade on your smartphone, tablet, or PC.  It is likely you will have access to some sort of application that will allow you to take full control of Watson’s power and intelligence.  It will be like having your own personal Ken Jennings to follow you around and answer all your questions.  It will change how we access information, how quickly we can fact check or answer questions, and how we learn.