Supercomputer Watson to visit RIT today

IBM developers show off Watson and look to hire RIT students


IBM’s Watson avatar. The supercomputer will make its way to RIT Jan. 15 for an IBM co-op event.

Answer: A supercomputer capable of answering questions posed in ordinary language, made famous by its 2011 appearance on the quiz show Jeopardy!

Question: What is IBM’s Watson?

Stephan Roorda, a 2001 RIT computer science graduate and Watson Core Developer at IBM, will visit Rochester Institute of Technology on Tuesday, Jan. 15, to show off Watson, explain how it works and discuss where IBM is taking it next. The free and open presentation, which includes a demo during which people can ask Watson questions, will be from noon to 1 p.m. Jan. 15 in the Golisano Hall auditorium.

After the machine defeated former Jeopardy! champions Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings, IBM began looking for ways to commercialize Watson’s artificial intelligence engine. Watson’s data crunching capabilities could someday be used to help suggest diagnoses to doctors or analyze massive amounts of data for insurance companies.

“Stephan has put together a version of the program for us that displays some of the data Watson looks through to determine answers,” says Paul Tymann, chair of RIT’s computer science department. “Knowing Stephan, he may have actually ‘taught’ Watson something about RIT.”

Computer science alumnus Randy Horwitz, who graduated in 1999, is the manager of IBM’s Extreme Blue internship program. He will also attend the event hoping to find RIT students to work on the Watson team and other co-op opportunities.


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