Big Data, once thought to be the answer to unlocking insight, has itself become a challenge. From the vast amount of digital content online to new types of data streams from social, mobile and other sources, information overload pervades all aspects of our lives.
Identifying true insights trapped within that data is a difficult task. How do you sift through the 95 percent of information that doesn’t matter to find the five percent that does?
Enter IBM Watson and the era of cognitive computing. Watson has both an insatiable appetite for Big Data and the unique ability to contextually analyze that information to unlock meaningful insights.
The technology is able to ingest vast amounts of data from organizations’ own computer systems, from third-party data providers, from the Internet of Things, and from the public Internet.
In our work to enhance the performance of cognitive computing systems, we’re constantly exploring new ways to identify, understand and make use of information from both public and private sources. Toward this end, we are excited about the acquisition of certain technology from Blekko, Inc, which closed this afternoon. This will provide access to additional content that can be infused in Watson-based products and services delivered by IBM and its partners.
Blekko brings advanced Web-crawling, categorization and intelligent filtering technology. Its technology crawls the Web continually and gathers information from the most highly relevant and most credible Web pages. It uses classification techniques to create thousands of topical categories, making that data more useful and insightful.
These capabilities complement the recent acquisition of AlchemyAPI as well existing technologies available on the Watson Developer Cloud. The combination of these technologies will further assist our clients in applying cognitive computing toward making more informed, evidence-based decisions.
A metaphor to understand how this works is to think about the information on the Internet and other sources as a vast underground oil field. Blekko’s technologies are like oil exploration and production teams that locate the high-quality oil, drill, and deliver it to the refinery. AlchemyAPI’s technologies, together with Watson’s existing capabilities, are like the refineries that refine the oil into a multitude of finished products, such as gasoline, heating oil or jet fuel. IBM and its partners then distribute insights to the points of impact, the way tanker trucks deliver fuel to gas stations or depots.
Ever since Watson emerged more than four years ago as the first true cognitive computing system, IBM scientists, engineers and partners have been advancing the technology. While hundreds of clients and partners across 75 countries are already using Watson today, Watson is continually getting smarter, ingesting more types of information and engaging with people in new ways.
IBM is bringing the power of cognitive computing to everybody’s fingertips, helping enhance, scale and accelerate the spread of human expertise.
To learn more about cognitive computing, read Smart Machines: IBM’s Watson and the Era of Cognitive Computing.