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Q&A: IBM's Watson Leader On 'Dark Data' And The Age Of Reason

Ed Harbour tells CRN the partners he speaks to understand that cognitive computing is a disruptive force – and a huge opportunity. The key is to simplify the science into ways people can consume and innovate around.

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What is the big transformation you're seeing that's making IBM so confident that Watson represents the future of the company?

Harbour: A system like Watson … is really about data. And it's really about unstructured data, [which is] in natural language. It's typically where machine learning happens because you're mimicking the way humans reason and uses sort of an understanding and holistic model. …

And recent studies have shown that 80 percent of the world's data today is what's called 'dark data.' It's very useful for you and I to understand and read, but our capacity to process it all is limited. Computers have great capacity to process, but without the advent of natural language processing, they don't have the ability to see it and understand it.

So it's really taking all this data now, and gaining insight, and becoming an inside adviser to professionals, to people in our daily lives. That's really the transformation.

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