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News |  4 min read

Watson’s Off To University

We’re currently operating in what IBM refers to as the “Cognitive Systems Era”. Whereas traditional computers require human programming to retrieve information, cognitive computers are designed to learn through human interaction and, through continuous feedback, essentially reprogram themselves.

IBM’s cognitive computing platform is called Watson. The opportunities for Watson are vast so we’re going to focus on just one: tertiary education. That’s right, Watson’s off to university!

Think about some of the fundamental skills one would expect to evolve at a university. No matter the degree, language development, data analysis, insight and reasoning are probably top of the list. Through human interaction, Watson learns natural language and the ability to draw insight from data through analytics. As a result Watson can help us think and make better decisions by cognitively learning and reasoning in the same way humans do.

How can this apply to tertiary education? Students are often faced with an overwhelming amount of resources: from books and articles, to online videos and presentations. Watson has the ability to search through the structured and unstructured data in these resources and find the best answers to student’s queries in no time at all. Instead of spending hours searching for information, students now have to ability to efficiently locate and learn the knowledge they need, increasing their overall productivity.

So how does this differ from a general search engine? The major difference is that Watson thinks like a human, not a computer. Whereas search engines require us to provide 3 or 4 key words to direct the engine to a library of sources, Watson is able to understand the context of a question and put forward an answer that relates to the natural language the question was phrased in.

Think for a moment about how big a technological feat this really is. Language is entirely unstructured data, filled with rules and exceptions and in many cases, multiple different interpretations. Take English for example, why do we fill in a form by filling it out? And how does an alarm go off by going on? Watson has the ability to semantically analyse data sets, apply advanced analytics to determine what concepts exist in the data and return analysis, dynamic visualisations and natural language explanations of what was discovered. Faster than any human could ever do alone.

Interested in learning more about how cognitive computing can revolutionise your business? Download the Watson Analytics infographic today.

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