IBM will be making its Watson supercomputer available to the public with a new developer platform, according to the company. IBM has announced that it will be opening up Watson to developers starting in 2014 through the cloud, allowing them to build tools and apps based on Watson's database and language skills.
As you might know, this isn't the first time Watson has been available to outside users, but will mark the first time IBM is creating an open platform and API for the project where developers can take full control of the front end. Requiring very minimal support from IBM's Watson team, companies will still be required to license an instance of Watson as per usual, but pending that, the supercomputer will be open season for coders.
IBM is quick to point out that this new system is extremely simple at its core. Developers will be able to access Watson directly, asking it natural language questions and receiving links to the pertinent info from the machine's database.
While it is interesting that IBM is opening up the project – it is still a little unclear as to what the general public might actually get from all this – IBM says the program is "to build a new generation of apps infused with Watson's cognitive computing intelligence." Initially it looks as though Fluid will roll out Watson-powered personal-shopping functionality in North Face's online store some time in 2014. Other than that, we know there are two other official partnerships at hand for launch.
IBM's chief technology officer Rob High said that the company believes "that this is such a significant development in the future of computing that" it wants others to be involved from the ground up. He continued by saying that IBM wants "to let other partners" have a much "deeper say in how cognitive computing evolves."