IBM’s Watson AI System Gets New Digs in San Francisco

San Francisco is home to hundreds of artificial intelligence (AI) startups, with algorithm-powered Silicon Valley giants such as Google and Facebook also nearby. With IBM's announcement today that it's building a Watson hub in the city, the region will soon be able to boast even more AI brainpower.

Watson, IBM's cognitive computing platform and 2011 Jeopardy champion, is already putting its machine intelligence to use at hundreds of partner companies, according to Big Blue. Its new presence in San Francisco will now put it closer to many other startups, developers and venture capital firms working to "take cognitive computing into new markets," IBM said.

Aiming to develop its thinking computer's potential even further, IBM is also releasing a raft of new APIs (application programming interfaces) to encourage developers to embed Watson's intelligence into new applications, products and services. The APIs expand on Watson's abilities to understand intent and context in natural language communications, glean insights from images and videos on social media and provide spoken services in a variety of languages.

'Very Positive for Cognitive Systems'

"I think today's announcements are very important in terms of two aspects," David Schubmehl, research director for content analytics, discovery and cognitive systems research at the analyst firm IDC told us.

First, Watson's new San Francisco hub "will enable IBM and many of the Silicon Valley startups to collaborate on the Watson platform. I think this is very positive for cognitive systems in general as more companies begin to embed this kind of computing in their applications," Schubmehl said.

Second, the rollout of new APIs "extends Watson's capabilities into new areas and in essence provides a broader platform upon which partners and enterprises can develop cognitive applications," he added.

Building that broader platform will be important for IBM, which -- like other legacy tech companies faced with...

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