IBM Watson Goes to School to Engage Next Generation of Innovators

ARMONK, N.Y. and PITTSBURGH – March 30, 2011: IBM (NYSE: IBM) today will host a Watson symposium with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and the University of Pittsburgh, bringing together some of the brightest academic minds in the world to share ideas about what’s possible with Watson technology in the areas of medicine, law, business, computer science and engineering, and more.

In addition, teams of students from CMU and the University of Pittsburgh will put their skills to the test in a demonstration of IBM Watson’s question and answer (QA) capabilities. This is the first time students will have the chance to face Watson’s powerful analytical capabilities in a practice round exhibition game.

Select symposium sessions and interviews will be webcast live at beginning at 11:00a.m. Eastern time.

By bringing this technology to the university community, IBM aims to inspire the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs to think about how technology like Watson can benefit society. The event will also discuss the skills students need to drive future innovation.

“This is the first time we’re bringing together Watson, IBM scientists, faculty, and students to prepare for the next evolution in computing,” said Bernie Meyerson, vice president of innovation and university programs for IBM. “Watson will transform how technology is applied to assist doctors, business people and more, and our hope is that seeing Watson first hand will spark innovation from the leaders of tomorrow so that together we can continue to build a Smarter Planet.”

Watson, named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, was built by a team of IBM scientists who set out to accomplish a grand challenge – build a computing system that rivals a human’s ability to answer questions posed in natural language with speed, accuracy and confidence. The Jeopardy! format provides the ultimate challenge because the game’s clues involve analyzing subtle meaning, irony, riddles, and other language complexities in which humans excel and computers traditionally do not.

Watson represents a major leap forward for computer science. With its combination of sheer data processing power, natural language recognition and machine learning, the system demonstrates that technology has the potential to help humans improve the performance of many endeavors — everything from medicine to education, law and environmental protection.  The technology itself was developed in collaboration between IBM’s Watson Research team and the academic community including CMU.

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