IBM Backs Watson With $1 Billion And A New Business Division

Now the "thinking" robot could win as many as _hundreds _of games of "Jeopardy!" (No, it's actually going to do other stuff now.)

Watson

IBM

Watson, IBM's Ken Jennings-smirk-obliterating robot riddle-solver, is getting $1 billion and some new digs in the hopes that it can be brought to the masses.

The company announced that they'll be fueling the supercomputer with the cash, forming a new business division around it, and building office space in New York City's East Village. A new team--eventually, 2,000 people, hundreds of which will work at the new headquarters, according to the company--will work on developing and commercializing the computer. About $100 million of the investment will go toward funding apps built by third-party developers.

This isn't a complete shock; we've known for a while that IBM had plans for Watson beyond game-show novelty. First, the company announced it wanted Watson in smartphones, Siri-style; then it opened up the system to developers. Now it has the funding to make it all happen.