IBM today announced it will provide a modified version an IBM Watson system to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, making it the first university to receive such a system. The arrival of the Watson system will enable new leading-edge research at Rensselaer, and afford faculty and students an opportunity to find new uses for Watson and deepen the systems' cognitive capabilities. The firsthand experience of working on the system will also better position Rensselaer students as future leaders in the areas of Big Data, analytics, and cognitive computing.
Known to many as the IBM innovation that beat Jeopardy!'s all-time champions, Watson has a unique ability to understand the subtle nuances of human language, sift through vast amounts of data, and provide evidence-based answers to its human users' questions. Currently, Watson's fact-finding prowess is being applied to crucial fields, such as healthcare, where IBM is collaborating with medical providers, hospitals and physicians to help doctors analyze a patient's history, symptoms and the latest news and medical literature to help physicians make faster, more accurate diagnoses. IBM is also working with financial institutions to help improve and simplify the banking experience
The leadership of Rensselaer faculty in Web science, Big Data, artificial intelligence, and other research areas uniquely situates the university to help expand Watson's abilities. Rensselaer faculty and students will seek to further sharpen Watson's reasoning and cognitive abilities, while broadening the volume, types, and sources of data Watson can draw upon to answer questions. Additionally, Rensselaer researchers will look for ways to harness the power of Watson for driving new innovations in finance, information technology, business analytics, and other areas.
With 15 terabytes of hard disk storage, the Watson system at Rensselaer will store roughly the same amount of information as its Jeopardy! predecessorand will allow 20 users to access the system at once creating an innovation hub for the institutes' New York campus. Along with faculty researchers and graduate students, undergraduate students at Rensselaer will have opportunities to work directly with the Watson system. This experience will help prepare Rensselaer students for future high-impact, high-value careers in analytics, cognitive computing, and related fields.
Underscoring the value of the partnership between IBM and Rensselaer, Gartner, Inc. estimates that 1.9 million Big Data jobs will be created in the U.S. by 2015. This workforce -- which is in high demand today -- will require professionals who understand how to develop and harness data-crunching technologies such as Watson, and put them to use for solving the most pressing of business and societal needs.