Will IBM's Watson put your job in jeopardy?

February 15, 2011: 9:33 AM ET

If IBM's supercomputer outperforms some of Jeopardy!'s greatest minds, what does that spell for the rest of us working stiffs? As it turns out, workers may have some cause for concern.

By Martin Ford, contributor

This week's showdown between IBM's Watson supercomputer and the world's top Jeopardy! players raises several questions on the impact that artificial intelligence will have on the future job market. After all, if a machine can beat humans at Jeopardy!, will computers soon be competing with people for knowledge-based jobs?

If IBM's (IBM) hopes for the technology are realized, workers may, in fact, have cause for concern. The company's website says that "Watson's first test will be on Jeopardy!, but the real test will be applying the underlying data management and analytics technology across different industries." In a video describing Watson, an IBM executive says the technology "will revolutionize industries at a level which has never been done before."

Unlike other advanced software applications, Watson has a command of natural language, it can simultaneously launch hundreds of information-seeking algorithms, and, perhaps most importantly, it has the ability to learn and improve its performance over time. More

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