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Undergraduate | May 13, 2015 |

Business Analytics students see IBM Watson at work

Students and faculty in the MS in Business Analytics program gathered at the World of Watson conference.

Students and faculty in the MS in Business Analytics program gathered at the World of Watson conference.

By Michael Khayyat

It’s far more than just a computer.

IBM’s Watson—the machine renowned for beating humans on Jeopardy! — can cook, make change and give advice.

Last week, Fordham MS in Business Analytics students had the chance to make Watson’s acquaintance, so to speak, visiting IBM’s annual World of Watson Conference here in New York City.

What did they see? Among the myriad applications, imagine a two-foot-tall animated robot, powered by the Watson supercomputer, that could one day replace your bank teller. Make a deposit or cash a check? Done—all via Watson technology.

Walking the main conference hall, Gabelli School students took in the breadth of areas where the Watson supercomputer could play a role: health, insurance, travel, media and education, among other areas.

Ginni Rometty, the CEO, chair and president of IBM, explained the technology’s potential.

Watson ushered in the third era of cognitive computing, marked by learning and continuous self-improvement, she said. This allows Watson to operate in those gray zones where there is no right or wrong answer, she added. Watson provides “percent confidence,” helping users to make decisions based on collected evidence.

Watson machines are capable of developing new recipes, crunching vast amounts of data to identify potential innovations in healthcare, and running natural-language searches on the popular wisdom contained in the vast archive of TED talks.

The conference shed light on how certain industries are being revolutionized by cognitive computing and big data. IBM predicts that Watson will lead to paradigm shifts in tackling global issues, and Fordham’s MS in Business Analytics students are preparing to be part of the movement.

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