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