One of the best ways to understand IBM's Watson is to shop for a biking jacket. That might seem like an odd statement, but it's true. The North Face has tapped the power of Watson to help you find the right spring attire, and so have several other companies. IBM has built up Watson into a celebrity that has'appeared' on Jeopardy and in recent commercials. Yet, its natural language processing ability is a good example of cognitive computing for any IT worker or executive trying to understand the future of the industry.
THE assignment was one of the biggest challenges in the field of artificial intelligence: build a computer smart enough to beat grand champions at the game of "Jeopardy." When I stepped up to lead the team at I.B.M. that would create this computer, called Watson, I knew the task would be formidable. The computer would have to answer an unpredictable variety of complex questions with confidence, precision and speed. And we would put it to the test in a publicly televised "human versus machine" competition against the best players of all time. It was not easy finding people to join the Watson team in the mid-1990s.