Artificial intelligence positioned to be a game-changer

The search to improve and eventually perfect artificial intelligence is driving the research labs of some of the most advanced and best-known American corporations. They are investing billions of dollars and many of their best scientific minds in pursuit of that goal. All that money and manpower has begun to pay off.In the past few years, artificial intelligence — or A.I. — has taken a big leap — making important strides in areas like medicine and military technology.  What was once in the realm of science fiction has become day-to-day reality. You’ll find A.I. routinely in your smart phone, in your car, in your household appliances and it is on the verge of changing everything.

It was, for decades, primitive technology.  But it now has abilities we never expected. It can learn through experience — much the way humans do — and it won’t be long before machines, like their human creators, begin thinking for themselves, creatively. Independently with judgment — sometimes better judgment than humans have.

As we first reported last fall, the technology is so promising that IBM has staked its 106-year-old reputation on its version of artificial intelligence called Watson — one of the most sophisticated computing systems ever built.

John Kelly, is the head of research at IBM and the godfather of Watson. He took us inside Watson’s brain.

Charlie Rose: Oh, here we are.

John Kelly: Here we are.

Charlie Rose: You can feel the heat already.

John Kelly: You can feel the heat — the 85,000 watts – you can hear the blowers cooling it, but this is the hardware that the brains of Watson sat in.

Five years ago, IBM built this system made up of 90 servers and 15 terabytes of memory – enough capacity to process all the books in the American Library of Congress. That was necessary because Watson is an avid reader — able to consume the equivalent of a million books per second. Today, Watson’s hardware is much smaller, but it is just as smart.

Charlie Rose: Tell me about…

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