InTech Magazine – How long before Watson comes to engineering, and what will be the impact when it does?

Hundreds of years ago, experienced master builders knew everything about their craft, designing and overseeing the building of pyramids, cathedrals, and bridges. Now the world is vastly more complicated, and no single person can know everything in a professional field.

For example, in the early twentieth century, to become a doctor required a high school diploma and a one-year medical degree. By the end of the century, doctors needed a college degree, a four-year medical degree, and three-to-seven years residency training, which some believe is not enough. A doctor could spend all waking moments reading medical journals attempting to stay up to date. Unfortunately, there is too much information to absorb, and patients need to be treated.

The same is true in engineering, with debate about whether…


Watson Wins Jeopardy in 2011 (photo courtesy of YouTube: IBM Research)




>> Read full article in Nov/Dec 2016 issue of InTech Magazine

2 thoughts on “InTech Magazine – How long before Watson comes to engineering, and what will be the impact when it does?

  1. Sarah, thanks for the great comment. It’s hard to prepare for something when you can’t really even comprehend it’s impact. During the birth of the PC, could anyone have foreseen how our world would change? I got along just fine in my engineering job in 1980 without a PC. Now, I can’t do a single thing without one. Could anyone have predicted that a phone would be more than just a phone, and how it would change everyone’s lives? No one can really predict the future, there are simply too many unknowns. With AI, people will still think, they’ll just think in different ways than we do now. For example, how many people can drive a stick shift now? That was a requirement 70 years ago, but it really had nothing to do with driving, it was just the limitation of the vehicles at the time. Engineers (and everyone else) will still think and accomplish things in the future working along with AI, just in ways that we currently can’t even comprehend. We’ll ‘prepare’ simply by adapting to a changing world.

  2. Sarah Strand says:

    Technology advancement enabled tremendous possibilities. It is not “Watson comes to engineering” that is scary. It is “we stop thinking” that is disappointing. While we are embracing artificial intelligence and leveraging it to better our lives, we can’t engineer ourselves out of thinking.

    Artificial intelligence has been the hottest area for tech venture capitalists for quite some time after they incubated social media a decade ago. This “next big thing” will become a lifestyle before we know it. The question is: how do we prepare for it?

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