By Steve Hamm
My father was studying agricultural science at a junior college in Iola, Kansas, in 1939 when he got an opportunity to drive with friends in a new Plymouth to the World’s Fair in New York City. There, exposed to a vision of an amazing future made possible by technology, he decided to change course and studying mechanical engineering so he could help make that vision come to life.
As an engineer for Westinghouse for nearly 40 years, he played a role in some of the key technological advances that took place in the second half of the 20th century, including jet engines and space exploration. Continue Reading »
Imagine this: Your computer, the one you carry around in your pocket or purse, knows everything about you. With your permission, it knows about your relationships with the people, places and things in your world. It talks and listens to you. And, as your computer interacts with you and with the vast store of data about you, it learns to be an even better assistant—helping you navigate your personal and professional lives.
Up until now, only a select few of the world’s leading businesses and government agencies have had the ability to marshal vast financial and computing resources to solve almost any highly complex problem. But in the coming years, this type of power will become available to individuals, as well– through the assistance of computers that learn and help us make the most important decisions affecting our lives. Continue Reading »
You can help design this world of the future—where machines learn, reason and interact with people in ways that are more natural to us. As a scientist, an engineer, a marketer, or an entrepreneur, your skills and ideas will be essential for inventing the new era. For consumers of technology, social networking gives you a seat at the table where the future is being designed. Your voices will shape the thinking of technologists and the services they offer to you. This year’s 5 in 5 predictions of innovations that will help transform your world is just a taste of what is to come.
To stimulate the conversation between technology creator and consumer, we’re calling on readers to suggest their own novel and perhaps even earth-shifting ideas for putting cognitive systems to work on everybody’s behalf. If you have an idea that gets you jazzed, please submit it as a comment at the end of this blog post. We’ll review the comments and highlight the best of them in future posts. The people with the most intriguing ideas get free Watson T-Shirts!
To learn more about the new era of computing, read Smart Machines: IBM’s Watson and the Era of Cognitive Computing.
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 »