What is Watson? Those of you who are Jeopardy! fans may have heard of Watson before. To those who have not, Watson is a Supercomputer created for IBM. Watson gained a lot of fame on an episode of Jeopardy! in 2011, where it played against two previous champions and won.
The Watson technology originally started as a “question answering” machine. It uses combined Artificial Intelligence (AI) and analytical software to process a question. Watson has access to 90 servers with over 200 million pages of information. That information is then compared against 6 million logic rules. This set up is meant to copy or exceed a high level human brain.
This technology is able to learn from mistakes to improve accuracy. It will compare the answer it thought was correct against the actual answer, and form a theory that it can use in the future. Watson technology is also able to “speak” in a fluent manner. This technology has developed and changed since it was first created, and is now being implemented in the hospitality and healthcare fields.
So how could this technology transition into the agriculture field? Using Watson technology, machines can “learn” data or sensors. The knowledge the machine gathers can be used as a true AI system. Soil nutrition information paired with weather/rain predictions and market information can estimate how well your yield will do this year (or how to improve it). Watson is a quick learner, and can understand how seeds react to soil types and weather patterns in the area. It may be able to offer a suggestion of a crop that would better suit the area being grown in.
For drones, with Watson technology applied, they can automatically identify problem areas in fields on their own and take action. It can save time by taking care of the problem immediately. If there is an infestation of bugs or mold, the drone can spray the calculated correct amount of pesticide or fungicide on the affected area (provided the drone is equipped to do so). This process is much quicker than having the drone go back to the farmer, have the information downloaded, reviewing it, and then going out to that spot themselves. The farmer could put too much or little of the needed application. This technology could help to lessen the workload and perhaps even require less people to work on the farm.
“IBM Watson supercomputer.” WhatIs.com
Irimia, Madalina. “Five Ways Agriculture Could Benefit From Artificial Intelligence.” IBM