With IBM providing external developer access to it’s Watson system they’ve made a clear statement as to where they are putting some skin in the game. As a hardware engineer, and one who admires some of their early work (can you say 801 project) it’s heartening to see Big Blue try and push the envelope here.
Watson is not an overnight development. Nonetheless it’s a very interesting notable early commercial step not just because of the system itself. IBM has decided to “open the kimono” and enable third party developers to create applications and systems in support of their own businesses. Imagine knowledge based verticals having the ability to now provide services to consumer level customers requiring information and advice around virtually anything.
As access prices to systems similar to Watson drop, and application/system development in this space becomes easier, even small businesses will be able to take advantage of what’s this technology. For example, small regional nurseries could provide a service for local gardening enthusisasts in determining what plants make the most sense to grow locally. Couple the computing with remote censoring via bluetooth attached sensor on a droid or iOS device and possibilities are limitless.
Is IBM going to own this market ? Who knows for sure .They will certainly be a player, and it seems they are willing to put substantial resources into promoting it’s success both home grown and in support of external developers. Odds are we are looking at a smallish number of years (>2 <4) based on what it takes IBM to develop hardware specific to this computing paradigm (or to see their standard processor based systems speed up to handle it).
The real question is not if, but when the tipping point for consumer use of this technology will occur .As I mentioned above, my sense is 2 to 4 years which is a long time in tech space, but remember that part of this play is also a hearts and minds exercise. Crucial to all of this will be how easy deploying cognitive computing systems (hardware and software) becomes for companies besides IBM. Who else will start to develop purpose built hardware in support of this computing paradigm ?
If you’re a company who has knowledge specific to a vertical, or maybe a help desk, you might want start thinking about this technology as part of a knowledge solution you offer to your customers.
I’ll be tracking what new hardware crops up in this space going forward, I expect that might help refine some of this timing. In the meantime….
Finally, What’s “c-squared a-squared s” you ask ? “Cognitive Computing As A Service “of course !!!