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Tech Tuesday – Build Your Own Watson Computer

I’m sure many geeks out there watched the game show Jeopardy as Watson, a computer cluster built by IBM, took on and wiped the walls with two Jeopardy champions. I found it amazing and wanted to know if I could build my own Watson. I can, and here’s how you can too.

Photo by Ben Hider/Getty Images

If you don’t what what I’m talking about, you have either A.) been living under a rock or 2.) In cryogenic suspended animation on a space station a few hundred light years from Earth and been recently returned by our future alien robot overlords. But you can get caught up with a couple of BJ’s earlier posts on Watson on Jeopardy.

So I jumped on Google to find out more about Watson. And I came across this blog post from  Tony Pearson. He is a Master Inventor and Senior Managing Consultant for the IBM System Storage product line at the IBM Executive Briefing Center in Tucson Arizona, and featured contributor to IBM’s Virtual Briefing Center. His article pretty much gives you the blue prints to build your own “Watson Jr.” using off the shelf hardware and open source software. And based on how much processing power you put into this system, an estimate of about how long it would take your Watson Jr. to give you an answer to your questions.

While this wouldn’t work as a “weekend” project, it could definitely be a long term hobby project. I did some quick pricing and based on what I could find quickly, you can build your Watson Jr. for a little over $3000. But I do admit that was a rough estimate from both memory and what I could find online quickly. And this doesn’t take into account any time you would need to program some of the behinds the scene stuff. But IBM has released much of that to world via open source.

But I still think it’s pretty safe to say, that having the bragging rights to owning your own “Watson Jr.” in your home, it still pretty sweet, and could definitely turn the heads of some of your fellow geeks.

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