Thursday, November 14, 2013

Here’s how IBM can take Watson to the Next Level:

Today’s New York Times has an article by Quentin Hardy about how IBM has beefed up its Watson program (the computer system that defeated two humans in Jeopardy on TV). The general idea is that Watson will be a powerful computing application in the cloud. The article suggests that IBM is unsure how to profit from Watson-in-the-Cloud, but by making it available, they will find out.

I can tell IBM how to take Watson to the next level. Make a deal with Facebook! Here’s how it would work:

Facebook users could make a single query, or buy a few minutes of time for queries. The price would range from, say, $1.99 to $29.99, depending on the number of queries and the user’s level of privacy. IBM would charge the least amount for a single query that was accessible to all Facebook users along with its answer. And of course, Watson would get access to the Facebook user’s own data, if they agree, to help Watson tailor the answer to the questioner. And of course, IBM (and Watson) would be able to save all the Q’s and A’s, anonymously, to improve their system.

Here’s how IBM would benefit:

First, I’m sure that hundreds of scientists have worked on this question: what do people want to know that Watson can tell them? Well, after the Facebook deal, an additional 150,000,000 people or so will offer their suggestions. Crowd Wisdom can innovate.

Second, IBM will make money. I’m sure you can imagine the trickle of funds coming from this arrangement, but it’s better than that. Some public queries will go viral, and everybody will want to know how Watson will answer them. Thus, some single queries will each be asked 50 million times, yielding nice profits.

Hey, Watson, what are my chance of earning a million dollars in my lifetime?

Hey, Watson, is it time to look for a different job?

Hey, Watson, where should I look for my lost hat?

Hey, Watson, how should I roast my 22 pound turkey?

IBM: Facebook is calling …


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