Even supercomputers need a little schooling.
Seemingly paying homage to Star Trek's Data, Intel has reportedly sent its Watson supercomputer to college so that it can learn to be "more human".
According to IBM, the company is actually sending a modified version of Watson to the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, marking the first time a Watson system will be used in a university. Watson was made famous by nuking the world's best human players on "Jeopardy!" in 2011, but now it's heading to college to sharpen its mathematical ability, to figure out how to quickly understand the meaning of new or made-up words, and more.
"The leadership of Rensselaer faculty in Web science, Big Data, artificial intelligence, and other research areas uniquely situates the university to help expand Watson’s abilities," IBM said. "Rensselaer faculty and students will seek to further sharpen Watson’s reasoning and cognitive abilities, while broadening the volume, types, and sources of data Watson can draw upon to answer questions."
The Watson system provided to the university will have 15 TB of hard disk storage, allowing it to store roughly the same amount of data as the "Jeopardy!" model. It will also allow up to 20 users to access it simultaneously, thus creating an "innovation hub". In addition to faculty researchers and graduate students, undergraduate students will also have access to help prepare them for future high-impact, high-value careers in analytics, cognitive computing, and related fields.
IBM said that Watson has a deep connection with Rensselaer, the oldest technological university in the United States, as many graduates became key members of IBM's Watson project team. "Leading up to Watson's victory on Jeopardy!, Rensselaer was one of eight universities that worked with IBM in 2011 on the development of open architecture that enabled researchers to collaborate on the underlying QA capabilities that help to power Watson," IBM added.
The company said it will provide Rensselaer with Watson hardware, software and training.
In addition to Rensselaer, IBM is also collaborating with medical providers, hospitals and physicians via Watson to help doctors analyze a patient's history, symptoms and the latest news and medical literature, thus speeding up diagnoses and making them more accurate. IBM is also working with financial institutions to help improve and simplify the banking experience.