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IBM is rolling out Watson supercomputer in Africa

Watson goes from gameshow winner to developing world
Thu Feb 06 2014, 15:41
IBM Watson supercomputer

ARTIFICAL INTELLIGENCE SIMULATOR IBM has detailed plans to apply its Watson supercomputer the critical development issues facing Africa.

The machine is capable of holding more intelligent conversations than most Big Brother contestants, and in 2011 it beat human contestants on the US TV game show Jeopardy.

However, in Africa it will be used to help solve the pressing problems facing the continent such as agricultural patterns and famine relief.

The initiative, named Project Lucy after the earliest human remains discovered on the continent, will take 10 years and is expected to cost $100m.

"I believe it will spur a whole era of innovation for entrepreneurs here," IBM CEO Ginni Rometty told delegates at a conference on Wednesday.

"Data... needs to be refined. It will determine undisputed winners and losers across every industry."

The technology will be used to find ways to enable the developing world to leapfrog over stages of development that have hitherto been too expensive.

One example cited was Nigeria, where two companies have already committed to use Project Lucy to analyse the poorly maintained road system and determine project priorities for repair.

IBM recently announced that it will invest $1bn to spin off Watson into a separate business unit, however this could be quite a gamble as Reuters reported that although Watson has proved to be a quantum leap, it has yet to make any significant money for the company, netting less than $100m in the past three years. µ


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