Thursday, February 17, 2011

How Watson Ironically Humanizes IBM

I watched my first full episode of Jeopardy ever this week to see a computer, IBM's Watson, play against two Jeopardy All Stars Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. I know how badly computers can own at games from playing chess on a PC, so I wasn't expecting any less than dominance from Watson. What really surprised me was the educational format of the three day Jeopardy series. Really the IBM Jeopardy Challenge should have been called the "Love IBM Again" campaign, because I think I'm in love with them again. 

Scattered throughout the half hour game show were short montages that showed the intelligence and passion of the IBM people behind Watson through personal interviews and commentary on how Watson can be applied to real industries. The execution of the partnership between Jeopardy and IBM is branding genius because it re-associates IBM with innovation and also revealed a more human and transparent side to a company that has traditionally been somewhat invisible. In the end both parties win, as Jeopardy probably benefited from the extra buzz and IBM, well now has a well-loved computer mascot.

If you missed the episodes you should definitely check out IBM's recap and commentary here. You can see how genuinely proud the creators of Watson are as they sit nervously in the audience worried everytime Watson gets an answer wrong and cheer when Watson is being unintentionally funny (but doesn't know it because he's a computer... duh.).

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