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Corporate CEOs Ask Supercomputer Watson for Business Advice

August 10, 2014, 7:00 PM

What's the Latest?

IBM has opened a new research lab specifically to test whether their supercomputer Watson, which triumphed over two Jeopardy! champions in 2012, might give business leaders good advice about company management. In one example, Watson was read the details of a recent internal memo discussing a company's strategy for artificial intelligence. After being instructed to generate of list of companies whose revenue range from $15 million and $60 million, humans discussed which of those companies would make the short list for acquisition. When that smaller list was put back to Watson, the computer emerged with a decisive decision: "I recommend eliminating Kawasaki Robotics." When asked to explain why, Watson simply added. "It is inferior to Cognilytics in every way."

What's the Big Idea?

Interestingly, what we know about human psychology may make Watson as valuable an asset in the room as its ability to perform natural language analysis and complex mathematical calculations. 

"'Watson could enhance collective intelligence by facilitating turn taking, or having a neutral presence that can help prevent groupthink,' [said Dario Gil, director for symbiotic cognitive systems at IBM research]. For example, people may feel freer to question their boss’s opinion if Watson is the first to suggest there is another way of looking at a problem."

IBM notes that products like photocopiers, PCs, and video conferencing rooms all developed into popular technologies after they were pioneered in the business sector. 

Read more at Technology Review

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