Yes, they are diving in to it. They are also a key player in the SyNAPSE project, so they think there is a huge market in cognitive computing. Perhaps there is. Verizon could do with a Watson system to handle there customer support phone calls. The current system is essentially menu driven and keeps telling you to go to their website, so I don't think it is a very expert "expert" system. Watson could likely handle most customer support roles, so I think there is a legitimate business use case.
I am in the middle of reading the novel "Bleeding Edge," by Thomas Pynchon, and just saw the movie "Her" over the weekend. All this Watson talk (and the Watson commercials running during football yesterday) is a connecting point between Silicon Alley circa 2001 and the AI-augmented world of our near future.
One thing is for sure: IBM is putting a lot of money behind Watson. You can't escape advertising for Watson these days and the company seems rather proud of its latest offering. Whether it can use Watson to capture this market for years to come remains to be seen.
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