Audience was riveted and impressed by the performance of the machine that was able to answer questions posed in natural language to defeat two past all time Jeopardy winning champions. What kind of other applications would spawn from such an impressive data analysis technology? What kind of mind created this machine and what does he see as the future ahead in the realm of artificial intelligence? Dr. David Ferrucci, principal investigator of Deep QA/Watson Project at IBM will be speaking at TiEcon 2011 http://www.tiecon.org. Ferrucci’s team of 25 researchers focus on developing technologies for discovering knowledge in natural language. A natural language understanding system must have knowledge about what the words mean, how words combine to form sentences, how word meanings combine to form sentence meanings and so on. What is going on under the hood with Watson during the jeopardy challenge is very impressive. Watson is taking in the input, generating hypotheses, and is trying to prove them based on what it thinks it has understood about the clue, the category, and even the surrounding clues; in short any material that supports or refutes the answer. Watson then analyzes all the evidence to come up with a set of best answers and finally with the best answer. Watson is very good but not yet perfect in natural language understanding. In fact, Watson struggled during the round with more “pun-y” or idiomatic categories. http://bit.ly/ee71dP
Dr. Ferrucci’s team is also working on leveraging these technologies in a variety of intelligent search, data analytics, and knowledge management solutions. The Watson computer system designed by Ferrucci’s team represented the integration and advancement of many search, natural language processing, and semantic technologies. His team is working on applying this technologies to areas like medicine, government, and law to drive advances in computer supported intelligence and decision making. Many entrepreneurial opportunities exist in this technology. TiEcon entrepreneurs will look forward to hearing if Dr. Ferrucci shares any specific pointers for opportunities and challenges in the path ahead towards perfecting these technologies and their applications to solve human challenges in diverse areas.