IBM’s Stephen Gold Offers Insight into Watson’s Role in Big Data

Stephen Gold, IBM Watson SolutionsIBM’s Watson changed the way people think about computers and technology when it successfully competed with real people on Jeopardy. Since then IBM has been working to bring Watson to more practical usage in a variety of industries. Last week on The Cube, hosts John Furrier and Dave Vellante sat down with Stephen Gold from IBM Watson Solutions to discuss some of the advancements the company has made with the technology.

In the first third of the interview, Furrier asked Gold to reveal how Watson has evolved since its relatively rapid ascent onto the technological scene. Jeopardy, Gold said, was a key inflection point as it aggregated capabilities that had previously only been brought together in a lab. It presented systems that were capable of dealing with unstructured data in a different way: thinking more like a human being. It is capable of learning, and some are even calling it a “cognitive system”.

IBM has initiated its first real-world application of Watson in the healthcare industry. With it health professionals can ask it to evaluate a patient’s case, and Watson can objectively present an ideal course of treatment that the physician can consider.

Later in the interview, Furrier asked Gold to define Watson, just to make sure people know exactly what this innovative technology from IBM actually is. Gold described Watson as a new class of industry-specific analytical solutions. It is an assemblage of many technologiss based on cognitive abilities, and it ultimately manifests itself in an actually usable product. Within Watson are 41 subsystems of technology. An individual or machine can input a question, and Watson can break down that natural-language question and come up with probable answers.

Watson is capable of semantically breaking down input, analyzing it for possible meanings using its algorithms, and then searching through its vast among of data to bring back weighted responses. Questions that could not even be asked before are now possible with this technology.

Vellante and Furrier then asked Gold to talk a little about how IBM feels about this big data revolution and if they are as excited or even more so than the average geek that is jumping for joy. Gold answered that question and more in the full video interview that you can watch online.