Image: Geoff Oliver Bugbee
Following a discussion about why the natural language abilities of Watson are such a breakthrough in artificial intelligence, IBM's David Shepler later had two teams of local high school students square off against it in a game of Jeopardy!
Shepler's background is not in computer science, but in public policy, and he talked following the contest about the need for broad thinking - thinking across multiple disciplines - in order to bring breakthroughs like Watson to the public.
Watson's future may be in the field of education, where it might, incidentally, learn from curious young minds, Shepler said. But one of its more immediate uses may be in augmenting the judgment of medical professionals, who must consume enormous amounts of information to be proficient, and who might, by combining the deep analytics supplied by Watson with the visual clues from the patient right in front of them, make truly inspired diagnoses.