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Archive for February, 2011

IBM's Watson computing system

IBM's Watson computing system

When we think of the systems that make up a smarter planet, what typically comes to mind are industries like manufacturing, transportation, energy, or banking.  But there is another ‘industry’ that needs to become smarter.  We might call it the humanitarian industry.  That is, the system that creates a safety net to support society and is made up of philanthropies, social services, education organizations, NGOs and government agencies.

In many ways, this is the most human of all systems.  So it is ironic to consider how Watson, a computing system, could help us solve civic, social and cultural challenges and make smarter humanitarian decisions. But Watson’s deep QA technology presents new possibilities to do just that.  Through private sector collaboration with nonprofits, Watson can become the next innovation to be used as a force for societal good.

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dave bartlettBy David Bartlett

How can a hospital ensure thousands of pieces of clinical equipment are where they need to be when they are needed?  How can a utility prevent breaks in vast networks of underground water mains, some dating back hundreds of years?  How can power companies maintain their grids and reduce the number of power outages with fewer truck rolls?

Those are the kinds of challenges that are bringing together 7,000 clients, partners and IBMers at the annual PULSE conference in Las Vegas this week. Continue Reading »

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[downloadable here: coming soon] [Noma Bar][smarter planet]

#8bar1619 in a series

publicsafety_outcomes

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cloudEver since the term “cloud computing” was coined a few years back, the very thought of allowing a company’s data to sit out in some undisclosed location in cyberspace has left CIOs and CFOs quaking in their shoes. If they can’t control their data (or even know where it is) how can they protect it? Their worry is one of the main reasons why cloud computing is more talked about than actually adopted by businesses.

That’s why a claim by one of IBM’s security mavens, Harold Moss, chief technology officer of cloud computing strategy, seems so surprising. “There’s a misconception that cloud is less secure than traditional IT environments,” says Moss. “The cloud can actually be more secure.”

How is that possible? I’m sure some of you disagree with his conclusion, and I invite you to weigh in with comments…

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ibmwatson

From the IBM Watson Research Team: During Watson’s participation in Jeopardy! last week, we received a large number of questions (especially on reddit!) about Watson, how it was developed and how IBM plans to use it in the future. Below are answers to some of the most popular questions (you can also read the responses on the reddit blog). As background, here’s who’s on the team. Continue Reading »

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CanepaBy Steve Canepa

If there is one constant in the 21st century media and entertainment marketplace – it is constant change.  As billions of intelligent devices, hybrid networks, advanced services, apps, and digital content continue to evolve in uncountable ways, media firms focusing on the production and distribution of information, news, entertainment and social experiences are facing a daunting challenge: how to make sense of it all – while providing unique value.

This is precisely why IBM’s Watson is so important. Continue Reading »

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February 18th, 2011
17:48
 

smarter_water_156x156As IBM celebrates 100 years of innovation, we’re exploring how the company has pursued progress over the last century in three ways: Pioneering the science of information, changing the way the world works, and reinventing the modern corporation.  As we both reflect and look ahead, it’s interesting to note how the world around us has also changed and to imagine what it will look like in another hundred years.

Over the last century, global water usage has increased at twice the rate of population growth, impacting society across the board from public health to economics to energy consumption.  Obviously, this supply and demand ratio isn’t sustainable, and big changes in the way we manage this precious resource are an imperative.

Collaboration among companies, municipal and government leaders, water managers and citizens will be essential as we continue to look for new ways to innovate in the water management industry.  And while much data is being collected, we’ve got to find better ways of using that data to make difficult decisions about how, when and where we’re using our water supply.  Data collection is one thing – but finding value in vast amounts of data, streaming in realtime or near realtime from a wide variety of sources, is another.  The advent of the deep QA (Question and Answer) technology that powers the Watson computing system presents a unique opportunity to rapidly analyze information and find answers to difficult questions.

Cameron Brooks, IBM’s director of smarter water management, takes a closer look at the implications for Watson in the water management field here.

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ibmwatsonThe excitement about IBM’s computer, Watson, and its appearance on the Jeopardy! game show rose to a feverish pitch as the man versus machine drama played out on television  earlier this week. The machine won–by no means a foregone conclusion. The episode proved that a small team of highly-motivated geniuses backed by an ambitious, deep-pocketed corporation can create a machine capable of beating the most expert of humans at a sophisticated mental game. It is truly a remarkable moment in the history of computer science and innovation.

Yet in Stephen Baker’s book about the contest, Final Jeopardy: Man vs. Machine and the Quest to Know Everything, the most interesting questions are not about machines but about humans. This is intentional.  On page 18, Baker writes that, whether the computer won or lost, it is his hope that it “might lead millions of spectators to reflect on the nature, and probe the potential, of their own humanity.”

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ibmwatsonTV’s Dr. Gregory House may be brilliant, but, frankly, he could use some help from IBM’s Watson–which is looking for a new challenge now that it has beaten the top human champions at Jeopardy! “House eventually gets to the right diagnosis, but he typically saves the patient only at the last minute,” says Dr. Eliot Siegel, a radiologist and director of the Maryland Imaging Research Technologies Lab at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “Watson would give House a much higher level of expertise. He’d lose some viewers, but he’d practice better medicine.”

All kidding aside, Siegel believes that a version of Watson designed for the healthcare industry “could revolutionize the way we practice medicine.”

And Siegel has the opportunity to help make that happen. IBM and Nuance Communications today announced a joint effort aimed combining Watson’s advanced analytics  with Nuance’s speech recognition to create services for the healthcare industry. They’ll be assisted by physicians and researchers at Maryland and Columbia University Medical Center. The two companies hope to bring a solution to market in the next 18 to 24 months.

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ibmwatsonThe contest between man and machine on Jeopardy! was decided when IBM’s Watson computer landed on the second Daily Double on day three.  The clue was: “This two-word phrase means the power to take private property for public use as long as there is just compensation.” Watson’s response: “What is eminent domain?”

The audience (mostly IBMers, since the show was taped in an IBM Research auditorium) went nuts. Former Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings covered his mouth with his hands. He knew the contest was likely over. “Ken realizes he can’t catch up,” David Ferrucci, head of the IBM Research team that created Watson, commented at a viewing of the Jeopardy! segments on Monday morning.

A few minutes later it was over. But our wondering about its implications has only just begun.

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