Are People Afraid Of IBM's Watson?

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It has been seven years since IBM put its artificial intelligence system, Watson, in direct competition with 'Jeopardy' champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. Watson handily beat both human contestants. IBM Analytics Senior Vice President Robert Picciano said viewers came away from the stunt with some positive feelings, but many people were afraid of Watson's computing power.

"The response has been incredibly positive in the way that people were inspired by it, but, you know, with the Terminator and SkyNet, and those [things], people just love to go into that," Picciano said.

He said the fear around Watson is similar to the anxiety some people have around the Internet of Things, and the idea of putting control of mass amounts of information and computing power into technology rather than human hands. But not everyone is so worried about the sci-fi implications of artificial intelligence; some people see the real potential benefits.

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"It was the professional response that probably surprised us the most," Picciano said, citing the opportunities that Watson and artificial intelligence technology poses for unstructured data in the health-care and public sectors.