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A Room Where Executives Go to Get Help from IBM's Watson


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A Room Where Executives Go, illustration

Credit: Technology Review

IBM researchers are experimenting with a room where executives can go to discuss business problems with a version of the Watson supercomputing system. The prototype system is designed to explore how software that can understand and participate in human interactions could "magnify human cognition," according to IBM's Dario Gil. The lab has a giant display taking up one wall, and several microphones installed in the ceiling. The Watson system instantly transcribes everything said in the room, providing a detailed record of any meeting, and allowing the system to react to commands addressed to Watson.

In a recent demonstration, Watson helped researchers role-play as executives to generate a short list of companies to acquire. During the discussions, Watson ran a series of decision-making algorithms and made decisions on which companies to add or remove from the list.

The researchers also are exploring how the system can be used to log the relative contributions of different people to a discussion, or to produce a fact-checking report after a meeting that highlights incorrect statements. "Watson could enhance collective intelligence by facilitating turn taking, or having a neutral presence that can help prevent groupthink," Gil says.

From Technology Review
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