Will the Power of a Supercomputer Soon Be Available to Filmmakers? IBM Confirms Watson App For Smartphones

You may remember the dramatic victory that IBM's supercomputer, Watson, scored against two of the all-time money winners on Jeopardy! in 2011.

Now comes word, via an August 31st, 2012 post by Ryan Faas to cultofmac.com, that the massive power of Watson (a 10-rack supercomputer with 2880 processor threads with 16tb of RAM that can process 500 gigabytes of data per second) might soon be be available through a smartphone app.

This means that users (including filmmakers on location) could ask their phone difficult questions - the kind of questions that require synthesis of vast amounts of information - and get predictive answers that far exceed anything that has been previously available through existing artificial intelligence apps, like Apple's Siri.

"Siri, for example, will be able to tell you the score in a face-off between the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings. Watson would be able to tell you the current score and predict the final score and the winner based the starting lineup, injury reports, past experiences of each team and each player, and could even incorporate the weather conditions as a factor."

Why does Watson on a phone matter to filmmakers?

Perhaps filmmakers, always at the mercy of local weather conditions, could use Watson to help them plan shots - by advising them about rapidly changing light and weather conditions. Or imagine how location scouts could benefit from a computer pulling from a huge database of images and local noise and traffic information. And Watson might be able to help filmmakers in finding just the right interview subject, or the venue for a promotional screening in an unfamiliar town. In short, a supercomputer could help filmakers in ways that would take most of us days to research.

While there are countless research and logistical questions that Watson could help filmmakers with - from screenwriting to film marketing - there are still many questions about a potential Watson app that have yet to be answered.

The Watson smartphone app is still a research project. IBM has confirmed that they are working on a voice activated service that users could access wherever there is a cellphone signal. But IBM hasn't announced a payment plan. Access to Watson could be on a pay per question or subscription model or some other basis.

Filmmakers (and others) could obviously use an artificial intelligence app with access to more information than any one person could ever gather. But the price and functionality must be right. Access to a massive supercomputer could change how filmmakers make some of the countless decisions that go into film planning, production and distribution. But it remains to be seen whether this new tool will work in ways that really save filmmakers time and money while also improving the quality of films and filmmaking.

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