IBM and Mubadala Bring Supercomputer Watson to Middle East

IBM’s cognitive computer, Watson, is to become available to startups for use across the Middle East and North Africa, the result of a partnership with Mubadala, Abu Dhabi’s state-owned investment vehicle. 

According to Stephen Gold, Vice President, Watson, the partnership will allow Mubadala to market and distribute technology under the Watson brand in the region. “The goal is to bring cognitive computing to local industries such as healthcare, retail, education, banking and finance. While replicating the ecosystem model initiated in the US and Japan, local entrepreneurs will be able to use cloud based cognitive services to build their own apps and businesses.”

Initially created as part of a challenge to beat human competitors on the game show Jeopardy!, Watson was unveiled for commercial use in 2014 and has since aided in cancer research, published a cookbook, memorised Wikipedia, can understand multiple languages, and has ‘learned’ Spanish, Brazilian, Portuguese and Japanese. It is now being taught Arabic as IBM prepares to pitch it to the MENA market.

The size of three stacked pizza boxes, Watson, attempts to map, navigate and find patterns in vast sets of data. According to Gold, Watson’s key strength is its ability to recognise natural languages, assign meaning to interactions, and reason and hypothesize like humans–but with the benefit of being able to analyse massive amounts of data in seconds. Watson does this by using algorithms that help it recognise the logic that connects bits of information. It then uses its understanding of the information to make accurate assumptions when answering queries.

However, IBM is quick to say that the machine isn’t exactly artificially intelligent. Asked if it could pass the Turing Test, the litmus test for whether machines are intelligent or not, Gold said, “Watson incorporates many of the underlying technologies that people use AI as an umbrella term to include, such as machine learning, natural language processing, visual analytics, deep learning, and other technologies; however we refer to this innovation as cognitive computing technologies, the commercialisation of AI, that can be used not to replace human expertise but rather to enhance and scale human knowledge and expertise.”

Watson is licensed to clients through a software-as-a-service model–hosted by the service provider and delivered over a network. To developers and startups, which IBM will be targeting through Mubadala, the business model behind Watson will involve a revenue sharing agreement which kicks in only once the product goes to market. The service is part of IBM’s Big Data Analytics Reporting unit, a $17 billion business.

Source: IBM and Mubadala Bring Supercomputer Watson to Middle East

Via: Google Alert for ML

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