How is IBM Watson Changing the World?
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How is IBM Watson Changing the World?

It might have started out as AI to win the quiz show Jeopardy! but IBM Watson has transcended its novelty status and is changing the world one answer at a time.

Like most cognitive systems, Watson learns from digesting information; quite a lot of information actually. It can read 40 million documents in 15 seconds. But what is it doing with all this information?


81% of healthcare executives are already familiar with Watson Health and believe it will positively impact their business. But just how is it impacting business?

Watson is currently being used to fight the ever spreading Zika virus. Using its analytics to monitor clinical trials and the effectiveness of a vaccine, Watson “is going to play a very key role” in preventing illnesses and saving lives.

Some hospitals are already using Watson to help inform decisions but Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool is using it to augment their non-clinical patient experience.

Alder Hey is now the first ‘cognitive’ hospital by using Watson’s Q&A capabilities to provide a personalised service to comfort patients, allowing patients to ask questions concerning their hospital stay.

A more specific function for child patients is that the app is design to gamify communication. More recently Watson teamed up with Elmo. Yep, you heard right. Watson will be used by the Sesame Workshop, the non-profit that provide learning experiences for kids.


Watson is also helping with the smaller, more everyday things too. While it might just be creating Thanksgiving turkey recipes right now, it has the ability to learn more about consumer habits and so the more complex its power can become. It has the power to change the way we farm food too. By taking into account weather data Watson can predict the future to make production more efficient.

Once you’ve eaten all the food Watson has suggested, you can use it to help you lose weight. Under Armour’s app, Record, incorporates the AI system to give you personalised fitness tips.

IBM might even help you improve your wardrobe. At the most recent Met Gala, model Karolina Kurkova wore a Watson-powered, LED-filled dress. IBM’s program consumed people’s tweets and changed the colour of the LEDs depending on the emotions in them.

It might be a while before we start having mood colour suits but it’s an exciting premise that will likely move beyond a novelty use in the future.


Only this week IBM announced that they are training Watson to solve cyber-crime. By feeding it large reports and data, the machine will improve its security analyst capabilities. The aim is to identify threats and use data mining to find outliers.

As Watson continues to make strides the system is still far from perfected. Training a ‘game-playing computer’ to solve big business problems is going to take time, but it is certainly on the cards.

Watson’s current downfalls become more apparent when you consider ambiguous questions that require an element of human intuition like medical decisions. While IBM have created WatsonPaths, a tool to show how it reached a conclusion, it’s not as accurate as a human decision.

Nevertheless, the future looks bright for Watson.

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