The great strength of computers is that they can reliably manipulate vast amounts of data very quickly. Their great weakness is that they don't have a clue as to what any of that data actually means.
Computer scientists have been laboring for decades to eliminate that weakness, with some limited successes in some limited domains. Now, IBM Corp. appears to have made a major breakthrough in the field of machine understanding. The results could spell big business not just for IBM but for data miners, content providers, retailers, political consultants, market analysts, and any other group that relies on information as part of its stock in trade.