By Dario Gil
Silicon deserves lot of credit for enabling the digital revolution. Silicon-based chips power everything from cell phones to supercomputers.
Light is another critical factor in our digital lives. Behind the scenes, fiber optic cables carry a flood of voice and data communications for the Internet, telephone lines and cable TV.
But I believe that the real magic happens when light and silicon meet–in the realm of silicon photonics.
IBM Research scientists and engineers have achieved a major milestone that could accelerate progress in this area. They have invented a silicon photonics device that combines electrical and optical components on a single chip, and which can be mass-produced using conventional chip manufacturing techniques. Read about the technical details here.
This breakthrough paves the way for game-changing advances in everything from high-performance computing to Internet-scale data centers. By easing data traffic jams in all sorts of computing and communications systems, our technology enables cloud computing and big data analytics to achieve their full potential.
By Jeffrey Coveyduc and Emily McManus
Imagine being able to ask a panel of TED speakers: Will having more money make me happy? Will new innovations give me a longer life? A new technology from IBM Watson is set to help people explore the ideas inside TED Talks videos by asking the questions that matter to them, in natural language.
Users will be able to search the entire TED Talks library by asking questions. Then they’ll be offered segments from a variety of videos where their concepts are discussed. Below each clip is a timeline that shows more concepts that Watson found within the talk, so that users can “tunnel sideways” to view material that’s contextually related, allowing a kind of serendipitous exploration.
Today, IBM and TED are showing a demo of the technology at World of Watson, an IBM symposium in Brooklyn, New York, aimed at expanding the role of cognitive computing in society.
By Dr. Lukas Wartman
I have the dubious distinction of being a famous cancer patient. I’m an oncologist who specializes in leukemia; I got leukemia; and I’m cured, at least for now, thanks to advances in genomic medicine and the efforts of some brilliant physicians and researchers.
My health was broken. It took some of the best minds and science in the world to put me back together again.
Unfortunately, in spite of advances in gene sequencing and oncology, too few cancer victims have outcomes like mine. The genomic treatment I received, an example of precision medicine, simply isn’t scalable to millions of people right now.
This is where IBM Watson could help. Using Watson’s cognitive computing capabilities, I hope it will be possible for oncologists like me to quickly mine insights from the immense amount of genomic data that’s becoming available about individual patients by using Watson to identify potential drugs that target our patients’ specific genetic profiles.
By Masaaki Tanaka
When I came to work for IBM as a designer in the Tokyo Interactive Experience’s User Centered Design lab last September, I expected to focus on enterprise computing. But, much to my surprise, the project I’m working on now for an IBM client has me imagining the digital lifestyles of a certain class of individuals–Japan’s senior citizens.
In fact, the target customer for Japan Post’s just-launched online Watch Over service is my own father. My dad is a 75-year-old retiree who lives alone in a rural area in Saga Prefecture, in the south of Japan. He has never touched a computer. He rides a bike rather than driving a car, so he’s cut off from his friends and it takes him 20 minutes to pedal to the nearest convenience store. I hate to think what would happen if he had a medical emergency. Continue Reading »
By Mark Ritter
In 1981, Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman challenged computer scientists to develop a new breed of computers based on quantum physics. Ever since then, scientists have been grappling with the difficulty of attaining such a grand challenge.
Employing quantum physics for computation is difficult in part because quantum information is very fragile, requiring the quantum elements to be cooled to near absolute zero temperature and shielded from electromagnetic radiation to minimize errors. This is so immensely different than our current approach to computation that the entire infrastructure of computing must be re-imagined and re-engineered.
Still, the challenges haven’t stopped physicists and computer scientists from trying, and an enormous amount of progress is being made. In fact, I believe we’re entering what will come to be seen as the golden age of quantum computing research.
By John E. Kelly III
It’s amazing for me to recall that in 1980 when I came to IBM Research out of graduate school, engineers were striving to design chips containing 100,000 transistors–those tiny electronic switches that process and store data. Today, it’s common to put five or six billion transistors on a sliver of silicon.
This remarkable achievement is the fulfillment of a prediction made in 1965 by industry pioneer Gordon Moore: that the number of components on a chip would double every year for the foreseeable future. He later amended the time period to 24 months. His predictions, codified as Moore’s Law, have come to symbolize the seemingly inevitable march of technological progress–the ability to make all sorts of electronic devices faster, smaller and more energy efficient.
While Gordon’s prediction proved to be more prescient than he could have imagined, today, 50 years later, the chip industry is no longer able to clear the high bar he set, due largely to limits imposed by the laws of physics. To put things bluntly: Moore’s Law is hitting a wall, and that collision holds significant consequences for business and society. Unless scientists and engineers come up with bold new approaches to chip architectures and materials, technological progress will slow.
To accelerate progress, we need to invent the next switch.
By Judy Murphy
One of the most stressful parts of a nurse’s job is the so-called “handover,” which occurs at the beginning of the shift–typically at 7 a.m. or 7 p.m.
In a matter of minutes, they have to find out which patients have been assigned to them, get reports from the nurses who handled those patients during the previous shift, and plan everything for their shift, from administering medications and scheduling procedures to giving baths and doing assessments –all the while being aware of activities that are already on the books for each patient. Talk about multitasking! Continue Reading »
By Kyu Rhee, MD, MPP
There was an interesting decision to make within IBM about what to call a new business organization that we’re announcing today. Should it be named Watson Health or Watson Healthcare?
“Health” is an aspiration, for individuals and society. “Healthcare” describes an industry primarily focused on treating diseases.
While healthcare is essential, it represents just one of many factors that determine whether people live long and healthy lives. Some other critical factors are genetics, geography, behaviors, social/environmental influences, education, and economics. Unless society takes all of these factors into account and puts the individual at the center of the healthcare system, we won’t be able to make large-scale progress in helping people feel better and live longer. So, Watson Health it is. Continue Reading »
By Steve Hamm
Last November in a championship powerboat race off Key West, Florida, Nigel Hook, skipper of Lucas Oil 77, was knifing along at more than 140 mph when he got a heads up from his support team that one of the main batteries was about to fail. That would have left the boat dead in the water. Instead, Nigel quickly switched to another battery and completed the race–finishing in 3rd place.
How did the support team know the battery was about to fail? Lucas Oil 77 is not only a monster of a motorboat; it’s also a node on the Internet of Things. Hundreds of sensors attached to the engines, navigation system and crew members monitor their health and beam the data wirelessly into the cloud, where it’s analyzed, and, when the system spots trouble, Nigel and the support team get alerts. Continue Reading »
By Inhi Cho Suh and Kris Lovejoy
Innovation is born out of people thinking differently and from the various perspectives each person brings to the table. And it’s up to companies to create an environment where diversity of thought is valued – where employees feel comfortable stepping outside the mainstream and taking risks. We need to encourage employees to be open, curious and ask questions. Urge them to think deeply and challenge the conventional thinking. They need to be able to take chances and experiment and ask the question that everyone else is too embarrassed to ask. If they make a mistake, challenge them to step back and learn from the experience. Encourage them to view every process, policy or financial hurdle as an “opportunity” as opposed to a barrier. These diverse viewpoints are the very fuel of innovative thinking. Continue Reading »