Well played, Watson

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IBM Watson is about far more than “Jeopardy!” and cancer diagnoses. The supercomputer is now the backbone of a new payment system from IBM and Visa. Watson technology will be used to introduce secure payment options from any number of devices. Not just those that are currently Internet-enabled: IBM says it could mean running shoes can alert a runner when they are wearing out — and make recommendations on replacements currently on sale.

With every aspect of life potentially a payment device, Visa steps in to ensure security. Its Token Service creates unique identifiers to process payments without exposing actual account details. Good thing, too. Those running shoes shouldn’t be able to order a Big Mac.

But don’t get too excited yet. There is a five-year development plan — given the pace of change, we may all be walking around with payment chips embedded in our skin. All we’ll need to do is think about making a purchase and it will magically appear, a la an “I Dream of Jeannie” blink.

By embedding security deep in its makeup, this alliance might prove it is worth the wait.

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