IBM's Trick or Treat
While kids were out and about with the parents, collecting as much candy as possible, students and professors at Harvard Business School and MIT Sloan School of Management were chewing on how advanced analytics are transforming business and society.
IBM's much talked about "Watson" was the feature guest at the Watson University Challenge and Symposium, which included discussions about the future of technology and business and a competitive analytical battle between the schools and Watson.
As part of the symposium, teams of students from HBS and MIT Sloan put their skills to the test in a demonstration of IBM Watson’s question answering capabilities in an exhibition game of the television quiz show Jeopardy!.
Watson, as most know, is a computing system created by IBM scientists and named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson. Watson understands the meaning and context of human language, can analyze data and learn correlations between data.
The technology introduces the capability to sift through an equivalent of about 1 million books or roughly 200 million pages of data to provide instant answers to questions posed.
Watson competed on Jeopardy! in February 2011, beating out two former (human) Jeopardy! champions.
The power of Watson's technology - the ability to make sense of large amounts of data to achieve goals - may become one of the most influential innovations for the business world in decades. With the amount of digital information being generated, stored, processed and analyzed each year growing at an exponential rate--and affecting every industry segment--there is a real need for businesses and governments to use deep analytic technology like Watson.
In addition to testing Watson's limits through a game of Jeopardy!, students, professors, IBM researchers, and industry experts participated in panel discussions at the Symposium, exploring what technological advances mean for business and the skills today's students need to become tomorrow's business leaders and entrepreneurs.
IBM's Dr. Dave Ferrucci, lead investigator for IBM Watson, gave a keynote address about how he and his team developed the Watson software and included students in a discussion about its potential to impact virtually every sector of the economy. Attendees brainstormed about businesses using Watson to uncover hidden patterns in data to rapidly identify market trends, or a doctor analyzing a patient's complex medical history with Watson to make a more precise diagnosis.