IBM puts Watson on the cloud

IBM is planning to put its Watson supercomputer onto the cloud with the idea of growing software that take advantage of the system’s artificial intelligence capabilities.

Watson was derived from IBM’s DeepQA project, drew worldwide attention in 2011 after it soundly defeated humans on the Jeopardy! telly show.

Since then Biggish Blue has been using Watson in areas like health care, but now the company is ready to share Watson with the broader world.

Rob High, an IBM fellow who serves as CTO of Watson, told IT World that  the technology was stable enough to support an ecosystem. IBM thinks it has something special and it should not be held back.

Watson is also a smaller piece of hardware. A basic Watson configuration has been between 16 and 32 cores with 256GB of RAM, according to High. If Watson needs a big think, IBM can chain these smaller Watson boxes together as needed for greater scale.

IBM is working with a handful of partners on the Watson cloud service, and each is developing specialized applications.

An outfit called Fluid is creating a Watson-powered program for retail which is designed to help buyers make better purchases.

The Watson cloud will include a development toolkit, access to Watson’s API, educational material and an application marketplace. Big Blue wants to work with venture capitalists to find startups that want to build software on Watson.