IBM's Watson heads to school

The Jeopardy champ's college application has been accepted by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Big Blue proudly reports.


To borrow from Hugh Gallagher's famous take on the university admissions essay, IBM's Watson computer has played Jeopardy with a Congressman, offered medical advice to doctors, and spoken with late-night TV stars. But it's not yet gone to college.

Till now, that is.

IBM announced today that it would, for the first time, be providing a modified version of a Watson system to a university: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

The system will "afford faculty and students an opportunity to find new uses for Watson and deepen the system's cognitive capabilities," Big Blue said in a press release.

Watson, of course, is the system that made a splash in 2011, when it crushed its human competitors on the Jeopardy game show. The system has, as IBM puts it, "a unique ability to understand the subtle nuances of human language, sift through vast amounts of data, and provide evidence-based answers to its human users' questions."

Since its Jeopardy triumph, Watson has been eyeballed for health-care duty -- including help with diagnosing cancer -- banking functions; and even telemarketing.

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