Welcome to this week’s Technology Updates, a vibrant mix of hot topics and future trends.

The future is here.

Watson goes SaaS.

As you may remember, IBM nominated its computer ‘Watson’ to compete in the game Jeopardy against Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.
(You can watch short reminder here –> http://g3t.ca/8hPHFP )

Watson is a mash up of various IBM and open source technologies, both hardware and software. In IBM’s words, it is an advanced natural language processing, information retrieval, knowledge representation, automated reasoning, and machine learning system in the field of open domain question answering. In simple terms, this means ‘Watson’ is capable of understanding a question and coming up with the most probable answer.

The exciting part is that this technology will be now available to developers. Developers can now build their own expert systems in medicine, business, technology, law, science and other fields using ‘Watson’ in the backend.

If you would like to try to work with Watson, this link can get you started —> http://g3t.ca/M4P5pG

The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray – Robert Burns

Alibaba went public. The Chinese ecommerce company chose the New York Stock Exchange (after Honk Kong regulators refused) to launch their bid to go public. It has been branded the largest IPO of all times, with billions of dollars flying around. Alibaba’s CEO declared he wants to build a company bigger than Wal-Mart; an interesting concept when you consider that Alibaba, which is frequently compared to Amazon.com, doesn’t actually carry any inventory. Whether you compare it to Amazon.com or Wal-Mart, the key is that it’s purpose is only to arrange transaction between the seller and the buyer.

This is where things will get fascinating. Alibaba will either have to do much better than eBay, or change its business model and carry inventory. To be bigger than Wal-Mart it will have to achieve revenue above U$470 billion and nail down procurement and logistics. In addition, it will have to compete without government protection in a highly competitive market.

Many companies have had a go at China only to be beaten, having their IP stolen, and in some unlucky situations, even jailed; eventually they left. Now the Chinese are coming here. They will have to play by our rules; transparency and accountable to shareholders is not a concept they are used to. I am not sure if they understands that.

Trending this week…

This week brought us some interesting, note-worthy articles and news:

  • Yahoo has more cash. Why? Alibaba did an IPO and Yahoo cashed out.
  • eBay got hacked, again (it actually lasted a whole week without this kind of news). This time, in order for sellers to create more attractive listing, eBay allowed the use of JavaScript programming language. That in turn, allowed hackers to embed harmful code (XSS – cross-site scripting) and redirect eBay customers to abusive websites.
  • Researchers at University of Sheffield built a telescope using parts printed on a 3D printer. The cost? Less than $200.
  • Microsoft buys Minecraft for U$2.5 billion. To you, it is a video game. To Microsoft, it is a platform. There are 54 millions copies of the game sold. Perhaps Microsoft will try to port the game on all of its devices and ask all the fans to buy XBox and Windows smart phone.
  • Check out even more trending topics here –> http://g3t.ca/5y0snh