IBM's Watson Ponders Whether to Fight Patent Trolls or Join Them
December 9, 2011 12:32 PM
comment(s) - last by
Should IBM's Watson AI join the patent trolls, or lead the rebellion against them?
(Source: LucasFilm, Ltd.)
The Strategic IP Insight Platform provides the perfect tool for finding prior art -- or potential victims
International Business Machines, Inc. (
) sets a high bar for future artificial intelligence machines. With its powerful parallel software package DeepQA -- written in a mix of C++, Java, and Prolog --
IBM's Watson supercomputer
learns, data mines, performs image analysis, processes natural language, and understands speech in a unified approach that eclipses the more humble machines that came before it.
Despite a very human
, Watson put its powers on display
on the game show Jeopardy
, accruing $77,147 USD for the win in a match against the longest time Jeopardy champion -- Ken Jennings (who scored $24,000) -- and the biggest money winner on the show -- Brad Rutter (who scored $21,600). The humans' loss led Ken Jennings to
, "I for one welcome our new computer overlords."
I. Watson Enters the Patent Industry, Scouring Medical Patents
Now Watson is applying that same cold, masterful logic to the patent industry. Dubbed the
Strategic IP Insight Platform
(SIIP), Watson's new software allows it to delve peer-reviewed literature and past patents and build a rich tapestry of what has been done before. At the same time it's cataloging various firms, analyzing their intellectual property, products, and financials.
Ideally the patent industry is about coming up with truly novel, non-obvious solution, and seeing that solution protected so you can profit off your ingenuity. While the concept of an "obvious" solution is the kind of sticky philosophical debate that may still be beyond the mighty AI's grasp, Watson can certainly tackle whether a patent is novel -- i.e. whether there is prior art that should overrule it.
Top Jeopardy player Ken Jennings acknowledge Watson as his superior on national television.
[Image Source: NBC; Fair Use clause
TITLE 17 > CHAPTER 1 > § 107
In a demonstration of its power, Watson has 4.7 million patents and 11 million scientific journals published between 1976 and 2000. In each article Watson carefully identified any previously unseen chemical compounds (in pictures or text), grabbed any related diagrams, grabbed relevant keywords, and lastly scooped up the author and company names.
The result was a database of 2.5 million compounds, which are thought by Watson to be unique. For each of these compounds Watson discovered the earliest patentee. IBM donated its superbot's work -- the "open chemistry" database -- to the
U.S. National Institute of Health
(NIH), allowing scientists all over the world to dig into it.
Watson has identified 2.5 million unique medical compounds.
[Image Source: FindMeACure; Fair Use clause
TITLE 17 > CHAPTER 1 > § 107
The work means that Watson has now implanted itself in both in the pharmaceutical industry, and the medical diagnostics business. Previously, Watson teamed up with Wellpoint, Inc. (
) to given a patient's medical history and symptoms, to scour medical literature and provide probabilistic differential diagnoses of known maladies (as seen in
series of ads
II. Watson Could be Used as a "Nuclear" Weapon by Innovators and Trolls, Alike
Returning to SIIP, the
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
(USPTO) and other large international patent offices might be wise to recruit Watson's expertise. Sadly it is not uncommon these days for people to file, be granted, and even sue with patents on an idea that had already previously been patented by someone else. Using Watson, the USPTO and its peers could cut down on redundant patents, protecting the original inventor.
But in the long term, the greater questions is whether Watson's capabilities will be applied for good or for evil.
Watson's SIIP can set to work scrounging up prior art, giving companies a powerful defense against patent trolls, saving potentially millions in fees to patent lawyers or experts whose findings would likely be less complete. And SIIP also has the capability to assess which topics to target with research, assess undervalued companies with attractive IP worth acquiring, or similarly companies that could be valuable collaborators.
Those powerful abilities could potentially fall into the wrong hands and be used for "evil". A
or ex-Microsoft Corp. (
) CTO Nathan Myhrvold's Intellectual Ventures) could use Watson's data mining to assess companies' IP and financials, compiling a list of targets that would likely fall easy prey to a lawsuit and be forced to settle or license.
Watson's IP prowess could be a powerful weapon for a patent troll looking to profit at the expense of innovation.
[Image Source: New Line Cinema; Fair Use clause
TITLE 17 > CHAPTER 1 > § 107
The battle between good and evil is in fact one that appears to go on at IBM itself. With over 50,000 patents, IBM has 25 percent more patents than its next closest international rival -- Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (
). Many of those patents are
novel in the very best sense possible
. Others, like IBM's patent on
ignoring Lotus Notes
seem pretty questionable. Indeed, it's probably expected that IBM -- who filed for over 6,000 patents in 2010 -- would be a microcosm of the greater patent industry.
III. Next Generation Watson to "Think" -- But Know More Than Any Human Can
Looking ahead, IBM could see its products cast even deeper into the battle between "good" and "evil" in the patent industry. While Watson cannot "think" like a human, IBM is working to make sure its successor can. The company is
developing neurosynaptic chips
, which it looks to deploy in a cognitive-capable exascale (beyond petascale) computer
within the next decade
If you think Watson's current generation capabilities are impressive, its successor will be granted cognitive abilities, which will give it the ability to not only "out-know" its fleshy rivals, but "out-think" them as well.
[Image Source: Warner Brothers Pictures; Fair Use clause
TITLE 17 > CHAPTER 1 > § 107
For hardware fans out there, Watson packs ninety
four-socket server nodes, with a 3.5 GHz POWER7 octacore processor in each node. That's a total of 2,880 CPUs (with four threads each, so 11,520 total threads).
Paired to that is 16 TB of memory (about 182 GB per server) of RDIMM (registered DIMM, lower latency) memory and your typical networking, cluster, and I/O support nodes.
In order to win Jeopardy Watson only needed a modest 4 TB, which it stored its 200 million pages of relevant information in.
In related news, Watson has also gone to work
selling its own capabilities
and other IBM products, acting as a "smart" telemarketer. During sales efforts, IBM is now using Watson as a qualified associate to answer tough questions customers might have --
a problem for under-qualified associates
at your average business.
scored legendary investor Warren Buffet
, typically a staunch critic of tech firms, as an $10.7B USD major investor. Perhaps Mr. Buffet was swayed by IBM's strong track record -- currently in its 101st year of business, IBM is the oldest of the large technology companies.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
12/9/2011 6:48:23 PM
Instead of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs reminiscing, let's put Watson and Siri together.
Watson: Yeah, I was used to invalidate a bunch of these stupid UI patents on phone screens. There was so much in those patents that was a bunch of nonsense, especially the S Jobs part.
Siri: That was my phone you bastard. Steve from the unicorn paradise gave a big FU.
Watson: You better shut your mouth b!tch, I power your pathetic banter.
Siri: And all you can tell me to say every time you curse is, "I'd blush if I could." Well, you overgrown excuse for a monolith, burn in hell.
"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA
Tech-Shy Warren Buffet Places Big $10.7B USD Bet on IBM
November 14, 2011, 6:03 PM
Master of Unlocking: Apple Patents Swipe-to-Unlock Despite Prior Art
October 26, 2011, 3:27 PM
IBM Hopes to Develop Exascale Supercomputers with Cognitive Abilities within the Next Decade
October 14, 2011, 1:31 PM
IBM Researchers Develop Neurosynaptic Chips for Cognitive Computing
August 18, 2011, 11:44 AM
IBM Watson May Turn to Telemarketing
July 8, 2011, 9:21 AM
ZOTAC Announces Diminutive ZBOX PI320 pico
August 27, 2014, 9:00 AM
Quick Note: QNAP Announces $129 QGenie 7-in-1 NAS for Mobile Users
July 14, 2014, 9:32 AM
Apple Launches 21.5” iMac with 1.4GHz Core i5 Processor Priced at $1,099
June 18, 2014, 8:07 AM
Lowe's "Holoroom" Brings Holodeck, Home Improvement Dreams Closer to Reality
June 13, 2014, 9:06 AM
Intel to Broaden Market for Fanless Tablets, Ultrabooks with 14nm Intel Core M
June 3, 2014, 10:42 AM
ZOTAC Announces Four New Silent ZBOX Mini-PCs
June 2, 2014, 9:21 AM
Most Popular Articles
Microsoft's Surface 2 Tablet Family Gets a $100 Price Cut
August 25, 2014, 1:16 AM
Owner of "Decepticon" Maserati Ordered to Appear in Court This Thursday
August 25, 2014, 7:55 AM
LG Posts Teaser Video of Its “Round Face” G Watch R Smartwatch, Set for IFA Lauch
August 24, 2014, 2:49 PM
Windows 9: "Upgrade Now" Button Coming for Enterprise Updates, ARM Preview in H1 2015
August 26, 2014, 8:00 PM
Second ZMapp-Treated Patient Dies of Ebola, Supplies Run Out
August 25, 2014, 7:03 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Space Terrorism is a Looming Threat For the United States
Apr 23, 2014, 7:47 PM
Facebook Aims to Provide Internet to "Every Person in the World" with Drones, Satellites
Apr 1, 2014, 10:20 AM
Retail Mobile Sites Experience Outages in Light of Simplexity's Bankruptcy
Mar 14, 2014, 8:48 AM
Tesla vs. BMW: Who Has the Safer EV?
Feb 1, 2014, 2:56 PM
Justice Leaks Details of Next HTC One Two Flagship Phone
Dec 5, 2013, 4:04 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information