IBM gifts Watson supercomputer to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

By on January 30, 2013, 6:00 PM

A private research university in Troy, New York, has been given a Watson supercomputer similar to the one that competed against (and defeated) two Jeopardy champions back in 2011. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) has been given the task to further build upon the machine’s reasoning and cognitive abilities, among other things.

Researchers hope to do this by broadening the volume, types and sources of data that Watson has at its disposal. At present, the system only has access to data that is stored on its hard drives which amounts to roughly 15TB worth of data in the case of the Rensselaer computer. Interestingly enough, about 20 people will be able to access and use the system at any given time.

Undergraduates, graduate students and even faculty will be able to use Watson which will help prepare individuals for rewarding careers in analytics, cognitive computing and related fields, according to IBM. RPI was one of eight universities that helped develop Watson’s architecture and several project members are RPI graduates, making the university a natural choice for the grant.

If you recall, Watson is not a self-learning system but it can recognize and process nuances in human language and provide answers to questions asked of it. Current iterations are being used in finance and healthcare, we’re told.

The computer may also eventually be used to drive new innovations in finance, information technology, business analytics and other areas, according to a press release regarding the grant.

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