Right. If you take it at its essence, at its core, it’s a system that understand natural language. You don’t have to write programs, you don’t have to learn things like Fortran or Java. You just ask it questions. It reads. Think about it as reading, right? When it reads a lot, it adapts and it learns. It gets smarter.
When it gets smarter, you can start to ask it questions. When you ask it questions, it will generate and evaluate hypothesis, potential answers with a level of confidence. When you think about that, that’s how we work: we read, we learn. We start to answer questions. That’s how we know whether we’ve learned that or not.
Watson learns like our children do. How do you know when your children are learning a new subject? How do you know they’ve actually learned it? You ask them a question. You see whether it gets the right answer. And when it doesn’t get the right answer, you help them discover the right answer, and it learns. It gets smarter.
And the next time, it gets that right answer and it builds upon things. But it just doesn’t learn from what it knows today. You can add more data to it. It reads new books, every day. And as it reads new books, it learns. It connects the dots with what it just read with what it already knew. Sometimes the new reading contradicts what it already knew. It has to sort that out. The same way we do. Right? It has to understand new information in the context of its relevance — the connection — to the old information that it had, and how important is this new piece of information.
So Watson has come a long way. But this is really, think of this really as just an engine in a cognitive system. It’s not the end state; it’s the beginning state. So as we start to move forward, Watson is getting smarter, we’re adding new capabilities to it. It’s learning to reason, to think through things. To help people using it move along a journey to come up with the right answer, the right diagnosis. It’s using that first engine I talked about as a subroutine, as something that it calls. That it asks questions to. That is new technology from IBM Research called IBM Paths, WatsonPaths.
Watson is learning to explore, visual exploration technology, to help you wander through massive amounts of big data to find that relevance, find that hidden jewel in a haystack. It’s learning how to visualize answers, not just speak back to you. Draw pictures for you. The art of human communication is not just text. Right? It’s pictures, it’s text, it’s images. All of those things have to join in to the system we call Watson.
So, today we’re going to talk about this next wave of technologies that are adding to the cognitive system family. We’re going to go through some examples with some world-leading experts. We’re going to talk about some of the new products that we’re going to announce today.
And then, we’re going to peek off into the future as to where this may go next, because I think there needs to be more circles on that chart, and Guru is going to talk about those a little bit later. So, Ginni mentioned the new headquarters. Whenever you have a growing family, sometimes you have to get a bigger house. Right? And when you’re getting a bigger house sometimes you want to focus on location, because location matters. Right? When you walk through the areas of Silicon Valley, or Silicon Alley and you look at the real estate, you look at the buildings, the history of that area, the edge of the East Village, historic Manhattan property.
In the center of it, there’s this brand-new iconic beautiful building. On a block all its own, standing out from everything else in the area. This is our new home. This will be the headquarters for IBM Watson. It will be a place where our people, our best and brightest, work with our partners, with our clients to imagine the future, to help create the future. It’s going to have an incubator that helps businesses get started with Watson. We’re going to have some of our best and brightest designers, graphical experts, help those products become really what they should be. And it’s right in the middle of the trendiest, hippest area of town. Not exactly where you would have thought IBM would open a new headquarters. So, we’re pretty excited.
We’ll be in our environment a little bit later this year. The building is done, as you can see. That’s the live picture of it. But the inside of the building looks pretty much like this. So we have a little bit of work to do. Even though, I think this is pretty cool, right? So I don’t think we’re going to do too much work as we go forward. So, we’re putting the right people, as Ginni said, we’re investing a billion dollars in this over the next few years. We’re creating a incredible environment to put this together. And we’re going to share Watson with the world. Right? Eras are not ours alone; we just happen to have a history of shepherding them and bringing them to life for the rest of the world.