Check your calendars for tomorrow morning, and plan on coming back and viewing this year’s 5 in 5, predictions of five innovations that will rock your world within five years. Chosen by IBM Research scientists, this year’s innovations are rooted not in gee-whiz visions of the future but in projects we have underway in our labs today.
Each of the predictions will explore an aspect of one of the most important changes that’s coming to computing–the ability of machines to learn from their interactions with data and people. Such learning is part of the era of cognitive computing, which got its start with Watson’s victory on the TV quiz show Jeopardy! In the future, machines will increasingly learn, reason, predict the future and interact with people in ways that are more natural to us. Continue Reading »
By Steve Hamm
At IBM, Watson seems to be everywhere these days. The cognitive computer that beat two grand champions on the TV quiz show, Jeopardy!, has a team working on enhancements in IBM Research; software programmers developing services for businesses and whole industries; programming and ideation contests in universities; two books about it (Final Jeopardy! and Smart Machines); and, now, an Off-Broadway play.
That’s right, Playwrights Horizons is presenting The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence, by playwright Madeleine George—which opened on Nov. 15 and will continue through Dec. 29. It’s an exploration of the relationships between people and the people and machines we depend on. The play draws on parallels between IBM’s Watson, the character Dr. Watson of Sherlock Holmes fame and the Watson who Alexander Graham Bell called in the first-ever telephone conversation. At times funny and other times emotionally wrenching, the play examines our mixed feelings about being helped by others. George is featured here.
By Steve Hamm
Picture yourself entering a popular e-commerce Web site or opening a mobile shopping app and being greeted immediately by a virtual shopping assistant that’s every bit as helpful as the best clerk you ever met in a brick-and-mortar store. Actually, better. This assistant knows everything there is to know about the store’s merchandise and the situations in which it’s used. But it’s also the ultimate personal shopper. It knows who you are and what you like, and it learns more from interacting with you and presents you choices in a visually engaging way.
That’s just the kind of experience that Fluid Inc., a San Francisco-based digital commerce company, plans on offering through its many e-commerce clients, starting with TheNorthFace.com.The technology underlying the service is IBM Watson, which created a splash two years ago when it defeated two grand-champions on the TV quiz show Jeopardy! Embedded within e-commerce Web sites, Watson has the potential to transform the online shopping experience.“Watson is a turning point in technology,” says Brooke Aguilar, vice-president for Fluid’s Watson application strategy. “It shows how consumers will engage with computers in the future.” Continue Reading »
The first era of computing was defined by simple calculations. The second era, beginning in the 1940s, introduced us to programmable systems. Now we’re entering the era of cognitive computing. In this era we will have machines that will learn, reason, sense, predict and interact more naturally with human beings. IBM Watson is a significant step in that direction and is currently working with doctors to fight cancer.
By Laura Haas
One year ago, when I was talking to medical researchers in Texas about potential research collaborations, I experienced one of those great aha! moments that scientists live for. I had mentioned work we were doing in using text analytics on the medical literature to accelerate drug discovery. One of the researchers I was speaking to connected the dots between that project and an element of IBM’s Watson technology—the ability for Watson to generate hypotheses.
He said: Why not combine these technologies to help predict the next promising experiment that could be undertaken in any line of scientific inquiry? Out of that revelation came a deep collaboration between Baylor College of Medicine and IBM to accelerate the discovery of new drugs to treat and cure diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and ALS. Continue Reading »
By Steve Hamm
As the most-attended sporting event to be staged worldwide each year, the US Open Tennis Championships in New York City is an ultra-high-profile venue for demonstrating IBM’s technology chops. Each year since the company became the United States Tennis Association’s technology sponsor in 1990, IBM tech teams have endeavored to outdo the advances they produced the year before. You can see their work as the up-to-date expression each year of what it takes to run a big sports event with the latest technology available. This year is no exception. Cloud computing really came into its own. Continue Reading »
By Eric Siy and Dr. Sandra Nierzwicki-Bauer
The Jefferson Project at Lake George, being launched today in Upstate New York, is the culmination of a generation’s work to understand the lake’s changing water quality and what it will take to protect it for the next generation.
The project will advance the “Legacy Strategy” of The FUND for Lake Gorge, a science-based advocacy group founded in 1980. The Strategy was adopted last fall to stop documented declines in water quality as revealed by researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Margaret A. and David M. Darrin ’40 Fresh Water Institute (DFWI). Continue Reading »
Earlier this month IBM Research hosted the inaugural Smarter Energy Research Institute Conference (SERI) where energy and utility experts from around the globe came to share ideas and demonstrate prototype applications that shine a light on the next generation of analytics for the utility industry. Famed inventor and creator of the Segway Personal Transporter, Dean Kamen, delivered the keynote address and spoke of the need to inspire the next generation of great inventors.
The Smarter Planet blog sat down with Kamen prior to his speech to get his views on the future of the individual inventor, his pursuit of a solution to provide drinkable water to the 2 billion humans living without it, and what the utility of the future may look like. (The following is an excerpt.) Continue Reading »
By Steve Hamm
In an event that some observers say marked a shift in the history of computing, China has for the second time placed a machine atop the list of the world’s highest-performing supercomputers. The MilkyWay-2 system was designed and developed by China’s National University of Defense Technology.
For a group of legislators and science and technology leaders gathered in Washington, D.C. today, the news of China’s triumph, which came on Monday, served as a wake up call about the importance of investing in national competitiveness. “American national security and competitiveness depends on the US not falling behind in this critical area of science and technology,” said Congressman Randy Hultgren (IL-14).
Hultgren was one of a group of Congressmen who are crafting the American Supercomputing Leadership Act, a bill aimed at funding research in high performance computing at the national laboratories. Yet it was clear from remarks made by a scientists and government officials at the event, “Cognitive Computing: A New Way of Thinking,” that for the United States to retain its leadership in computing a collaborative effort involving not just government but academia and industry will be required. Eric Isaacs, director of the Argonne National Laboratory, cautioned that science and research “should not be funded in stovepipes.” He called for the creation of co-design centers, where people from multiple government agencies, universities and private companies can work together on the most challenging problems facing humanity.
To read more about the era of cognitive computing, download a free chapter of the coming book Smart Machines, by IBM Research Director John Kelly, at http://www.cup.columbia.edu/static/cognitive.
Thomas Malone, director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, is one of the leading thinkers in the realm of anticipating how new technologies will transform the way work is done and leaders lead. His 2004 book, The Future of Work: How the New Order of Business Will Shape Your Organization, Your Management Style, and Your Life, helped thousands of executives and would-be executives see their organizations, and themselves, in startling new ways. As a result, many organizations are becoming more collaborative and democratic. Now, Malone is exploring how social business, data analytics and cognitive computing will transform organizations once again. Here, he talks about the revolution that is coming.
IBM: In your book The Future of Work, you talked about society being on the verge of a new world of work, a key element of which is decentralization of the organization. Since then, the social networking phenomenon has emerged and is sweeping not just popular culture but business organizations as well. How has this explosion of social networking affected your thinking? Continue Reading »