Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Want to Work With IBM’s Watson? Now’s Your Chance.

ibmsauron2If you’ve been keeping track of IBM’s Watson — that’s the supercomputer that beat two human champions at the TV game show “Jeopardy!” — and ever wondered when you might get to work with it (him?) yourself, your chance has apparently come.

IBM announced today that it has opened up the Watson computing environment to developers in the cloud. You’ll have access to a development sandbox where you can work with the Watson technology, train it on the information in which you want it to become an expert, and even ready an application to introduce to the marketplace.

It’s called the IBM Watson Developer Cloud, and a few companies have already done some work with it. Welltok has developed something of a personal-health-and-fitness coach that will help you stay on target with your diet and exercise goals. Fluid has created an app that stands in for that one person at a specialized retail store who knows everything you’re going to need for, say, a backpacking trip. MD On-Line created a medical app.

If you missed Watson’s debut on national TV, then it’s worth going back and reading my stories about how it beat the two best players ever in the history of “Jeopardy!” — but not without embarrassing itself with a really weird answer at the end of the second day. (Day One | Day Two | Day Three)

Since retiring from game shows, Watson has gone on to an illustrious career suitable for one of those annual Christmas letters from an overachieving family: Doctor (sort of), cancer researcher and customer-service troubleshooter. Now, apparently, it’s the hired gun of supercomputers.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald