IBM plans to invest over $1 billion in the creation of a new business unit for Watson, the cognitive computing application that won the television show “Jeopardy.”
The new unit, dubbed the IBM Watson Group, will be led by Michael Rhodin, former VP of the company’s software solutions group. Based in New York City and housing roughly 2,000 members of staff, the group will also host Watson — which has been shrunk from its original size of a master bedroom to the size of three stacked pizza boxes.
IBM also plans to set aside $100 million within an equity fund to enhance the Watson Developers Cloud, which was opened to external parties last year.
Watson is a supercomputer that beat quiz show contestants on “Jeopardy” several years ago. The artificial intelligence system processes information in a way akin to “human thought” when analyzing and interpreting vast quantities of data, and so is able to go beyond standard answers produced by computers when given a query.
Stephen Gold, vice president of Watson Business said “interest is overwhelming and we recognized we need to move faster.”
By establishing the unit, Watson technology will be offered to businesses and consumers, and so the investment could further on the commercialization of cognizant computing — as well as the development of cognizant apps. The application of such technology is vast — it could be used as a natural language tool or advisory system in healthcare, financial services and education, but the biggest challenge is tailoring artificial intelligence software to make it suitable for particular industries.