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What platform is Watson based on? It's amazing that the speech capabilities are really good. Any thoughts on this?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Feb 15 '11 at 22:26

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closed as off topic by hyperslug, studiohack Feb 16 '11 at 8:53

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Didn't IBM buy out Dragon Naturally Speaking a while back? Wouldn't be surprised if Watson's voice based on that, even if only partly. –  Marc B Feb 15 '11 at 15:40
    
The speech synthesis is a cosmetic feature compared to the real innovation in Watson. AFAICT, Watson isn't doing any speech recognition (though nobody's indicated how they signal to Watson that it's his turn to answer). –  Ken Bloom Feb 15 '11 at 17:41
    
@Ken, At the beginning of the show, Trebek explained that Watson is informed of the question via a textfile. I'd imagine any other events that require Watson's response are signalled in a similar way. –  Cerin Feb 15 '11 at 21:56
    
@Cerin. That's why I assume that Watson isn't figuring out when Trebek calls on him using speech recognition. –  Ken Bloom Feb 15 '11 at 21:57
    
@Cerin: knowing IBM, it's probably via an enterprise service bus. –  Tom Anderson Feb 15 '11 at 22:12
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2 Answers 2

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IMO it is, may be not the beginning of a new era, but yet another milestone in a continuous trend that should quite soon transform our classical search engines as we know them today into real Q&A servers able of understanding our questions and devising the answers.

This is what the main search engines players of the marketplace are competing to achieve.

It is indeed significant that WATSON did not have voice recognition software. That's because we will submit our requests through the web. That is in textual form. Supposedly in English to start with.

Second, WATSON is a good operation for IBM. And this is what they wanted. It is a showcase. It is a proof of concept. It convinces would-be buyers that IBM's technology will give them the leading edge in the QA market. And, at the other end, it suggests to end users that if they select a search engine based on IBM's technology, then it will give them the best possible answer. Another reason for search engines to purchase IBM's technology.

Remember when IA was all the buzz ? Which company chose to design an IA based chess player to challenge the world human chess masters ? IBM of course.

They're just doing it again today. In the QA area this time.

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I wish it did have voice recognition software. I am pretty sure they could've handled that. Totally forgot about showcasing the power of IBM... I guess it is all subconscious –  Marin Feb 15 '11 at 23:10
    
@Marin Yes, but imagine how much it'd suck if Watson failed to answer something just because its speech recognition messed the words (pretty likely to happen). Also, I wonder how fun it could be for them to have a Watson user at StackOverflow lol. Jon Skeet would be the Ken Jennings. –  Camilo Martin Feb 24 '13 at 20:42
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It runs SLES: http://www.novell.com/promo/suse/ibm-watson.html. To me, it doesn't feel like the beginning of a new era. Rather, it's a fun demo of the culmination of NLP, search, etc.

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awesome, Suse Linux wtg. –  Marin Feb 15 '11 at 15:51
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'Progress so far' rather than 'culmination', i think. It's a little too early to call it a culmination :). –  Tom Anderson Feb 15 '11 at 22:13
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