Could the Project Manager be replaced by Watson?

Recently IBM made news with Watson, the computer designed to successfully play Jeop0rdy very well.  Beyond being able to play a game where AI creates answers in the form of questions, could Watson be put to more practical uses?  I ask a lot of questions day-to-day, keeping my team running, checking in with sponsors and stake holders; couldn’t Watson ask and process those questions just as well?  Thoughts of the HAL 9000 from 2001 a Space Odessy come to mind.

So, could Watson, or the Watson 9000 perhaps be a Project Manager? My first response was no – no way – after all, I have to do more than just pose questions and gather responses, right?  There is the greater context around the answers that Watson, at least today doesn’t capture; non-verbal clues and such.  Even in virtual teams, the way a developer phrases an answer may tell me a lot about his confidence in completing a task. Clues I pick up from “knowing” my team members.  Still, I suppose, with enough effort we could program Watson to do a reasonable job of gathering status of a project day-to-day.  Especially with a virtual team, posts like

<sarcasm= this requirements document is great! </sarcasm>

are pretty easy to figure out. With enough configuring Watson could possibly do a reasonable job correctly responding to obvious risk or issue events as well; such as a notice that the developer has left the company and won’t be completing his work on time – or ever.  I can see it now:

Dave, there is a 99% chance the project will not complete on time as currently staffed, would you like me to hire another Java programmer?

My points to all this are”with enough effort”, and “obvious events”,  and that only gets us to the task of communicating with team and sponsors during a project, one task out of many. Those points let me sleep at night without worrying about my chosen career disappearing anytime soon.  Watson may be fast on the buzzer at Jepordy, and able to ask intelligently framed questions; but I expect it will be a long time after we have flying cars before I have to compete with a computer to manage a complex project.

But, on second thought, if IBM can build me a HAL 9000 to help out day-to-day, I’m all for it!

Hal, would you check on the status of the storage interface software with our offshore team please?

Hal 9000 C - Chrome

Image by K!T via Flickr


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