Chapter 11 Case study “IBM’s Watson: Can Computers Replace Humans”

  1. How powerful is Watson? Describe its technology. Why does it require so much powerful hardware?

The powerful hardware was required by Watson to make its work quick and accurate. The Watson structure consists of 10 racks of IBM POWER 750 servers that run Linux. The RAM used is 15terabytes for each rack long with 2,880 processor cores that is equivalent to 6,000 top-end home computers. Watson racks also require 80 teraflops to run. The need of such enormous and powerful machine and system is to execute the database queries and scan the database quickly. The database is very large including the information from the internet which is considered a network of networks.

The Watson can find the data needed within short time- three second because the large amount of data is available at the primary memory of the computer system. The team downloaded the encyclopedias and Wikipedia from the internet along with more than 10 million documents and the Internet Movie Database (IMDB). The team also downloaded the entire archive of the New York Times that enabled the search to be very quick and efficient. It took 20 IBM engineers to develop the Watson project in three years’ time and cost over 18 million dollars including the labor cost and separate cost of 1 million dollars on the equipment’s.

  1. How “intelligent” is Watson? What can it do? What can’t it do?

The Watson is intelligent and has learned from its mistakes and success through a machine. The Algorithms programmed into its system and memory analyses the used language and interprets the information gathered from the external sources. There are general hundreds of solutions developed by the machine as well. The Watson project remembers the type of the question and runs the hundreds of algorithms to solve the problems. When the problems are solved the question is remembered against the found solution. The patterns of similarities and the cross connections are used in the system to develop the solution or a similar problem in short time that before and with more accuracy. The Watson however is not effective when it comes to the development of answers based on the prior experiences and problems based on good guesses. The Watson system is very intelligent but it still cannot predict the future r to have intentions, feelings and objectives regarding and issues of a problem.

  1. What kinds of problems is Watson able to solve? How useful a tool is it for knowledge management?

The Watson’s system ability to process the natural languages allow it to execute attacks that actually require the knowledge and expertise based on facts. The system can easily accommodate the repetition tasks and the problem solving tasks. The tasks that include the telephone management and transaction conducted on the same media of communication along with the answered questions are treated by the Watson and its clones. The Watson system model can also be incorporated in the computer models that are used to predict weather, online retailers analysis of in-s and out-s or trends and the speech recognition. These lead to more accurate predictions and recommendation for the future as well as speech processing.



  1. Do you think Watson will be as useful in other disciplines as IBM hopes? Will it be beneficial to everyone? Explain your answer.

The future expectation attached with the use of Watson are in the field of medicine, financial services and industry where large amount of data and stocks are transacted online and through the trade the benefit is developed for further smaller scale business. One of the prominent users of the Watson system is the WellPoint Inc., a health insurance company using Watson to sort through treatments and medicines stored in the database against different diseases and symptoms. The diagnosis however is still dealt by the professional because it requires prior experiences and proper knowledge of the issues.

IBM believes that the future of Watson includes the use of the system in the large data sorting and the telecommunication system that has become a large network of communication and data transfer. Since Watson can keep track of the methods and algorithms  even when they cannot provide the right answer while sorting through the right answer in the future at a very fast pace through trial and error approach.