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The Promise of Artificial Intelligence ­nfolds in Small Steps


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IBM's Watson competing on the Jeapardy! TV show (spoiler alert: Watson won).

IBMs Watson triumphed over human champions on the quiz show Jeopardy!, an achievement that suggested limitless horizons for artificial intelligence.

Credit: Seth Wenig/Associated Press

When IBM’s Watson computer triumphed over human champions in the quiz show "Jeopardy!" it was a stunning achievement that suggested limitless horizons for artificial intelligence.

Soon after, IBM’s leaders moved to convert Watson from a celebrated science project into a moneymaking business, starting with health care.

Yet the next few years after its game show win proved humbling for Watson. Today, IBM executives candidly admit that medicine proved far more difficult than they anticipated. Costs and frustration mounted on Watson’s early projects. They were scaled back, refocused and occasionally shelved.

IBM’s early struggles with Watson point to the sobering fact that commercializing new technology, however promising, typically comes in short steps rather than giant leaps.

 

From The New York Times
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