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How IBM is Competing with Google in AI

Amazon, Apple and Google have each built branded artificial intelligence-powered assistants in Alexa, Siri and Google Now. But it’s doubtful any are as broadly known as IBM Watson, which debuted on “Jeopardy!” six years ago this week and earlier this month was featured in a Super Bowl ad.

Ironically, despite that wide name recognition, IBM Watson is focused on business applications, unlike other tech giants pursuing AI-based products aimed at the consumer market. IBM pitches Watson’s diverse range of capabilities to industries like health care, retail and finance, where it has amassed specialist knowledge. Many IBM customers use Watson-powered virtual assistants to handle customer support. And its ambitions are broad. Right now, Watson is looking at whether it can test facts and determine whether news is real, according to David Kenny, general manager of Watson.

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So, as a result, we don’t see as much [opportunity for acquisitions]. Sometimes we do see things that could take years off our roadmap, and/or bring talent. An example is The Weather Company, which had solved the challenge of turning petabytes of sensor data into 26 million forecasts every day. That deal cut years off IBM’s roadmap [for IoT] and IBM has hung on to the talent.

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