Developer

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While computers are poor at creativity, they are adept at crunching through vast numbers of solutions to modern problems where there are numerous complex variables at play. Take the question of finding the best delivery plan for a distribution company — where best to begin? How many vehicles? Which stretches of road need to be avoided at which times? If you want to get close to a sensible answer, you need to ask a computer.

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You've probably seen the Watson commercials, where what looks like a sentient box interacts with celebrities like Bob Dylan, Carrie Fisher, and Serena Williams; or doctors; or a young cancer survivor. Maybe you caught the IBM artificial intelligence technology's appearance in H&R Block's Super Bowl commercial starring Jon Hamm. "It is one of the most powerful tools our species has created. It helps doctors fight disease," Hamm says. "It can predict global weather patterns. It improves education for children everywhere. And now we unleash it on your taxes."