IBM Watson Applied to Intelligence Problems

By Taylor Feuss
IBM’s cognitive computer system, Watson, which once beat Jeopardy’s top human players, can assist in situations specific to defense and intelligence communities, product officials said.

Watson can aid intelligence experts by creating a faster, more efficient way to sort through open-source data from a variety of areas ranging from research reports to Twitter feeds, said Rick Behrens, associate partner for Watson National Security Systems, at the GEOINT symposium in Washington, D.C.

“Very frequently we hear from analysts who say, ‘I do a keyword search … and I usually have to skip to page five or page six in the results before I find something that’s useful to me,’” he said.

“Watson assists the [intelligence] expert by enabling them to get through all that content much more quickly than they would be able to do otherwise,” Behrens noted. The system narrows a search down to “specific” answers so analysts don’t have to search through multiple pages.

For example, intelligence experts would have benefitted from using Watson while trying to locate Libyan political and military leader Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, he said.

To operate it, a user would ask the system, “Where is Moammar Gadhafi?” Watson would break the question down and identify its meaning. The application then sorts through millions of evidence pieces, identifies what’s most important, scores them and creates a set of hypotheses, Behrens said. 

Experts immediately would receive specific information about Gadhafi’s location, without being inundated with generalized information associated with the former Libyan leader. Instead, Watson recognizes the concept of location and provides analysts with that precise data. Experts would also receive information on anyone connected with Gadhafi and the nature of their connections, Behrens said.

Watson will benefit from IBM’s recent Global Software Initiative partnership with Lockheed Martin, which allows the companies to integrate their technical services in “smarter ways” to simplify and analyze complex data, Behrens said.

Watson and Lockheed’s similar analytic software, Wisdom, will remain separate but will collaborate to enhance geospatial and open-source data analysis to address situations specific to defense and intelligence communities, he said.

Topics: Homeland Security, Infotech, Infotech

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