A reader writes:
I work at the IBM T.J.Watson Research Center (where they are probably not happy about the time I spend on your blog at the office :) I know personally many of the people who worked on the Watson project (I work on different research projects). Those who question the financial soundness of the IBM investment in Watson are very short-sighted.
First of all, since when is investing in basic science without an immediate payout a bad investment? Don't we want our corporate citizens to invest in basic science? Or it has to be exclusively the role of the government? But then one can just read John Markoff's story about how IBM will announce today all sorts of commercial projects related to the technologies used by Watson.
And finally, virtually every single academic Computer Science department across the US (and abroad) held Jeopardy viewings for the last three nights, with IBM representatives on hand to answer questions about Watson and to show how cool and exciting is to come work for IBM. Just in recruiting alone, I wager Watson will pay off.
We saw this with Deep Blue (the chess machine) 15 years ago. That was not even closely related to a commercially applicable technology like Watson is, and yet it paid off. We would not have done it again, otherwise.
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