As a “Cloudler” ones lives in seriously interesting times! Yeah, fair enough - also the past few years have been far from boring ;-)... But these days we’re seeing the dawn - and even more importantly the materializing - of the next evolutional phase of cloud computing and cloud services: the addition and increasingly broader offering of “intelligence from the cloud” [Yes, I'm bold here ;-)]. From Wolfram Alpha and it's introduction of "knowledge-based programming" to IBM Watson with it's Cognitive computing system: more and more APIs and SDKs are being made available (for early adopters?) to get our hands dirty with what marketing states to be "The Next Big Thing in Cloud Computing" or TNBTICC for short [just kidding #AcronymJunkie]. In a series of blog posts we'd like to discuss our perceptions of these new technologies and services. Doing so, we are going to focus in particular on their current state by means of hands on experience and experimentation - labeled BeaS Labs. As a long-time IBM partner and especially against the background of our own experience with software products and services in the domain of Natural Language Processing (through our spinoff Valuescope) we couldn't resist any longer to check out IBM Watson. That said, we'll dedicate the posts in this series to this "new [actually not so new anymore] kid on the block".
What is IBM Watson?
Following our chosen hands-on approach I'd like to keep the answer to this classic introductory question reasonably short and rather focus on exploring the current state of Watson services made available to the broader public. That said, IBM's marketing description w/ TL;DR in bold:
"Watson is a cognitive technology that processes information more like a human than a computer—by understanding natural language, generating hypotheses based on evidence, and learning as it goes."
(How) Can I use IBM Watson?
Ok, you said hands-on, then NOW, WHERE... and HOW...??! (Image source: www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk) With the IBM Watson Developer Cloud IBM has setup a gateway for building cognitive apps leveraging IBM IBM Watson Services. It's essentially a collection of REST APIs and SDKs that all use cognitive computing for you/ us to solve complex problems [Disclaimer: all labled BETA #IWarnedYou]: (Image source: ibm.com) ... and it's free to try on IBM Bluemix. Trust me, digging into the ever increasing public Watson assets - mostly clearly aimed at developer type profiles - is really worth it, and can be even fun and entertaining. As a starting point one should check out the IBM Watson Developer Cloud site itself... Here are a few picks:
- Besides the usual suspected Getting started there's a ton of nicely structured Service Documentation.
- ... a gallery of Featured Apps
- ... and the "Watson Content Marketplace", where one can purchase and download content ready for use by Watson Services or browse the [few] free contents currently available.
- And of course theIBM Watson Developer Community.
In the follow-up post we'll build a first sample app leveraging the Watson User Modeling service along w/ Twitter REST API - so stay tuned! To be continued... [Update 2015-05-18]: Follow-up post BeaS Labs - Exploring IBM Watson™ Technology, Twitter Personality Insights Demo