IBM's big data analytics supercomputer Watson, while one of the most powerful technologies in the world, cannot match the power of the human brain, and probably never will, according to the IBM Watson lead.
Eric Brown, the lead research scientist for Watson, said the supercomputer is not meant to be used instead of human brains, but alongside them. He was speaking at the Global Grand Challenges Summit in London.
Brown was asked whether the Watson supercomputer could make people lazy.
"No, people won't get lazy," responded Brown.
"In the case of Watson, the initial expectation is that it changes the power of cognition. It can't replicate what the human brain does, nor is this likely to be achievable, but it can leverage huge amounts of information."
Brown said the biggest challenge when creating Watson was making it understand human language, particularly language that is contextual and that changes over time.
Watson is powered by 2,880 processing cores, 90 IBM P750 servers, has 16TB of memory and 80 teraflops of computing power.
The system hit the headlines in 2011 when IBM used its capabilities to play the game show Jeopardy and beat former champions to 'win' a $1m jackpot for IBM.
At the start of last year IBM revealed its plans to target Watson at three particular industries, of finance, telecoms and healthcare.
IBM has since announced deals with both financial and healthcare institutions to deploy the analytics technology
Brown said Watson's presence in the healthcare industry has the potential to bring the most value to society because health research is always changing, and Watson can leverage the latest breakthroughs for physicians.
"The amount of medical information is doubling every five years and physicians have trouble keeping up with this data, but it is critical for them to keep up with it."
IBM recently announced the formation of a new Watson Healthcare Advisory Board to provide the business with insights on healthcare issues that could be positively impacted by Watson technology.
Brown said there are to be further developments in cognitive computing, so that such Watson types of analytics technologies can adapt to humans rather than humans having to adapt to the technologies.
This will allow the technologies to be easily scaled out to new domains.
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