If IBM Watson (AI) is so smart, why isn’t Watson able tell IBM how to make billions dollars?

“If IBM Watson (AI) is so smart, why isn’t Watson able to tell IBM how to make billions dollars? Can’t you just ask Watson how to make more money?” It was an earnest question from a skeptical client. We all want an oracle we can ask.

I answered “IBM Watson can’t just know how to make money. It has to be taught first by humans. A person must teach Watson the knowledge and then Watson can expand on it.” The simple answer is IBM Watson is similar to all Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools. It is just a tool and not an all-seeing, all-knowing oracle. Buying a chef’s knife does not make me a chef. The old saying is “a fool with a tool is still a fool.” Watson, or any AI, can’t just imagine ideas, create new solutions, or create new solutions. While it isn’t an oracle, it is highly useful tool.

The real purpose of this tool labeled as Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Intelligence, or Assistive Intelligence is to provide computers with more human like interactions and understanding. Reading, writing, speaking, listening, seeing, and feeling are very human experiences. We define our world this way via our senses and sense of self being. At IBM, we have Watson focus more on the cognitive (thinking and feeling like a human) and being more supportive via assistive intelligence. The cognitive capability provides the computer a better and more natural way to move, communicate, interact, and learn in our human focused world.

A good example is Watson Cancer Diagnostics. It first was taught how to diagnose and treat cancer. The cognitive capabilities allowed it to speak, listen, write, and read both questions and answers. I even learned to read radiographs (visual). That gave the solution a baseline capability. Now it is moving onward by reading printed journals. We as humans think of it as nothing to extract information out of reading a book, but this is unstructured data which only a few years ago, computers couldn’t understand. Now with Watson, they can. Today Watson Cancer Diagnostics can work with doctors and suggest treatments, but ultimately, we still rely on the doctor to make the final diagnosis and treatment.

Water is the universal solvent. Humans are the universal problem solver. Computers are wonderful tools to enable humans. By adding cognitive capabilities, computers become even better and easier to use tools to assist us in shaping our world and hopefully for better.

 

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Author: cloudubq

Shaving solutions with Occam's razor while seeking simple elegant synergies. Scientist working as an engineer by architecting systems to improve the world and support my family.

4 thoughts on “If IBM Watson (AI) is so smart, why isn’t Watson able tell IBM how to make billions dollars?”

  1. While the question can be debatable, I really like the orientation. Most of the tools IT companies sell to the consumers should find applications within themselves. They have to make their processes smart, before going on recommending to the client. I think, most of the IT companies are still in consulting mode, where you get paid for recommending, than showcasing it themselves.

    Same argument goes for automation.

    Its called ‘Eating your own cooking’.

  2. AI supports decision making in situations that are more repetitive and predictable but can never replace the human judgement due to the human intutiveness which can not be so easily built into the systems.These systems definitely support faster decision making for more structured contexts.

    1. Mahesh, Thanks for your comment. I agree for the simple case, but what do you do when you put AI in charge of driving a car? It has to decide hit the little girl or take a high probability of killing the married couple driving? We may have to switch the machine on and let it make the call.

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