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Designed To Play 'Jeopardy!,' IBM's Watson Is Now Learning To Fight Cybercrime

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The supercomputer originally designed to win a game show is now learning how to fight crime.

IBM announced on Tuesday that Watson, its artificial intelligence system, will be training to enhance cybersecurity.

watson jeopardyIBM's Watson plays "Jeopardy!" (Photo: IBM)

Watson already has some impressive accomplishments (for a supercomputer). Despite being a cookbook author,“Jeopardy!” winner, and health-care pioneer, it's still facing a steep learning curve when it comes to cybercrime, said IBM.

“Even if the industry was able to fill the estimated 1.5 million open cyber security jobs by 2020, we’d still have a skills crisis in security,” Marc van Zadelhoff, general manager at IBM Security, said in a press release.

“The volume and velocity of data in security is one of our greatest challenges in dealing with cybercrime.”

Zadelhoff said there’s just too much data for a human team to process on its own.

ibm studentStudents will be helping Watson learn about cybersecurity. (Photo: IBM)

The company is teaming up with eight universities to help advance Watson’s learning process, including three Canadian schools:
  • University of New Brunswick
  • University of Ottawa
  • University of Waterloo.

The project will provide students with hands-on experience working with cognitive computing, which includes feeding Watson up to 15,000 security documents per month.

They’ll send Watson everything from blogs to videos — the “unstructured data” that makes up 80 per cent of data on the Internet — so that it learns to interpret such terminology.

Watson also uses natural language processing, a skill that the supercomputer used to beat human competitors on "Jeopardy!" This system helps Watson to “understand the vague and imprecise nature of human language in unstructured data,” explained IBM.

Not only will Watson be trained to detect security threats online, it will also be designed to recommend ways to prevent cybercrime.

An average organization processes over 200,000 security events per day, and wastes 21,000 hours every year dealing with false threats, according to IBM. The company hopes that Watson can help to eradicate this problem by processing the security data quicker and with more precision.

The year-long cybersecurity project is slated to start this fall.

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