Watson: The first cognitive system
The first cognitive system was Watson, which debuted in a televised Jeopardy! challenge where it bested the show’s two greatest champions. The challenge for Watson was to answer questions posed in every nuance of natural language, such as puns, synonyms and homonyms, slang, and jargon.
Watson was not connected to the Internet for the match. It only knew what it had amassed through years of persistent interaction and learning from a large set of unstructured knowledge. Using machine learning, statistical analysis and natural language processing to find and understand the clues in the questions, Watson then compared possible answers, by ranking its confidence in their accuracy, and responded – all in about three seconds.
Newer generations of Watson are currently being trained in oncology diagnosis for healthcare professionals, and in customer service as a support representative. IBM Research continues to push the boundaries of Watson by developing new interfaces that will allow humans and computers to interact more naturally.