Turbotodd

Ruminations on IT, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘watson’ Category

Impressions From SXSW 2012: “Conversational Commerce” with Opus Research’ Dan Miller

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If you want to better understand the looming intersection between voice recognition and artificial intelligence, you don’t want to talk to HAL from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” or even IBM’s Watson.

You want to speak with Opus Research analyst and co-founder, Dan Miller, which is precisely what Scott Laningham and I did recently at SXSW Interactive 2012.

Dan has spent his 20+ year career focused on marketing, business development, and corporate strategy for telecom service providers, computer manufacturers, and application software developers.

He founded Opus Research in 1985, and helped define the Conversational Access Technologies marketplace by authoring scores of reports, advisories, and newsletters addressing business opportunities that reside where automated speech leverages Web services, mobility, and enterprise software infrastructure.

If you’re thinking about things like Siri, or voice biometrics identification, or the opportunity that your voice response unit has for automating marketing touches, then Dan’s your man.

We spent a good 10 minutes talking with Dan about the idea behind “conversational commerce,”  and how important user authentication becomes in a world where the professional and personal are increasingly intertwined, and where IT staffs everywhere are suddenly confronted with new requirements brought about by the “BYOD” (Bring Your Own Device) movement into the enterprise.

Personalizing Cancer Treatment

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I hate cancer.  I really hate it.

I mean really.  Really really really.

I’ve lost more friends and family to cancer than I care to count.  I’ve lost an uncle to cancer. My two aunts. My grandfather.  My grandmother.

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IBM's Watson technology is being put to new use in personalizing cancer treatments in a partnership with world-renowned cancer treatment provider, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

In the last year, I’ve lost two good friends, and another one before them, several years ago, all wayyy too early (early 30s to mid 40s).

I hate cancer.

So I was pretty stoked about our announcement yesterday where my virtual brother, as Scott and I recently joked with Watson GM Manoj Saxena, is getting another form of unemployment.

First, there was Watson’s gig at Wellpoint, helping doctors with diagnoses.  Then we learned Watson was heading to work at Citibank to help out on Wall Street.

Now Watson is being put to use at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in an effort to help oncologists obtain detailed diagnostic and treatment options based on updated research that will help them decide how best to care for an individual patient.

MSKCC’s world-renowned oncologists will assist in developing IBM Watson to use a patient’s medical information and synthesize a vast array of continuously updated and vetted treatment guidelines, published research and insights gleaned from the deep experience of MSKCC clinicians to provide those individualized recommendations to doctors. It will also help provide users with a detailed record of the data and evidence used to reach the recommendations?

You can learn more about this new evidence-based approach to cancer treatment in the video below.


Oncology treatment is a complex arena, and yet cancers are the second most common cause of death in the U.S., second only to heart disease.

In fact, the American Cancer Society projects that 1.6 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed in the U.S. this year with outcomes varying wildly across the country.

Cancer isn’t a single disease with one footprint of cause, but rather, with some having hundreds of sub-types, each with a different genetic fingerprint.

Significant discoveries in molecular biology and genetics in the past two decades have delivered new insights into cancer biology and strategies for targeting specific molecular alterations in tumors. But in the process, these advances have also ratcheted up the complexity of diagnosing and treating each case.

“This comprehensive, evidence-based approach will profoundly enhance cancer care by accelerating the dissemination of practice-changing research at an unprecedented pace,” said Dr. Mark G. Kris, Chief, Thoracic Oncology Service at MSKCC and one of the clinicians leading the development effort. He noted that 85 percent of patients with cancer are not treated at specialized medical centers and it can take years for the latest developments in oncology to reach all practice settings.

Deep Blue Anniversary

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The Atlantic Monthly online reminds us that it was sixteen years ago today that world chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov sat down to play the sixth game of his match against IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer.  Kasparov won that match, three games, drawing in two, and losing one.

Garry Kasparov, right, faces off against IBM's Deep Blue in his final match of a six-game tournament on this day in 1996.

I recall in this December 2010 post what happened the following year.

 

 

Written by turbotodd

February 17, 2012 at 9:47 pm

IBM SmartCamp Global Finals: IBM’s Manoj Saxena Outlines The Commercial Opportunity Of Watson

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When it comes to being an entrepreneur, IBM’s general manager for its Watson Solutions group has been there, done that, and got the t-shirt.  Twice.

IBM Watson GM Manoj Saxena explains to the IBM SmartCamp finalists the commercial opportunity IBM's Watson technology presents to the world, even as he shares his own unique experiences as an entrepreneur.

When Manoj hit the stage at this afternoon’s IBM SmartCamp Global Finals in San Francisco to explain why he’s back at a big company like IBM, he started with his own start in mind.

Though he’s been with IBM for five years, and had an early background in corporate America at 3M, he started his own company in 1998 (Exterprise), which was acquired in 2001 before he started another company, Webify, which was later acquired by IBM.

One of the reasons he has since stayed at IBM, Manoj explains, is that “it’s the place to be if you want to have impact and change the world.”

He continued: “As you grow older, you start to understand what your core competence is, and mine is converting PowerPoints to products to profits.”

Manoj explained how startup culture and reality has changed dramatically from the dot com boom to present times.  In the past, you would build it and they would come, and it was all about eyeballs, traffic, and the amount of money raised as a badge of honor.

Today, if they come, you can then go build it, but you’d be well advised to validate THEN scale, and that actual revenues are the path to profitability.  Moreover, it’s advisable to take as little money up front as possible, so that you can focus on building value, a business, and not just a startup.

Ultimately, Manoj explained, companies are bought, not sold, and if you focus on building a business around a greater purpose, the riches will come.

He then turned to Watson, and the role the Watson technology is playing as IBM works to build a smarter planet.

Watson, Manoj explained, was a part of an IBM research project that followed in the spirit of the Deep Blue/Kasparov chess match of 1997, but that this time around, more focus was put on the commercialization of the technology.

What made Watson so unique was that not only is it smart at answering questions, but also that it can process and analyze 200 million pages in three seconds. The business implications of such a capability in our emerging data-drowning environment are critical. There are now 2 billion people on the Web, and “businesses on a smarter planet where people are dying of thirst in an ocean of data.”

So, Watson has been geared towards some select industries initially, namely healthcare and financial services, with others yet to come.

On the healthcare front, Manoj revealed some startling statistics. One in five diagnoses today are estimated to be inaccurate or incomplete, and there are 1.5 million errors in the way medication are prescribed, delivered, and taken in the U.S. alone each year.

And yet 81% of physicians report spending five hours or less per month reading medical journals, even as medical information doubles every five years.

Which is where Dr. Watson’s technology can help doctors with their diagnoses.  Not to replace doctors, but to help them winnow down to the most likely diagnosis based on Watson’s ability to rapidly analyze millions of likely scenarios and generate and evaluate those hypotheses to identify the “best” outcome.

As Manoj suggested, think of it as a navigation system for doctors.

Written by turbotodd

February 2, 2012 at 11:48 pm

Live @ Lotusphere 2012: Day 3 General Session: Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Father Of The Web

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This morning, Lotusphere 2012 had a very special guest, one whose vision and insight changed the world as we know it, but also my own world, helping create a career path that heretofore didn’t exist.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee graces the audience at Lotusphere 2012 with a brief history of the World Wide Web, and some suggestive comments about its imminent future.

I’m talking about none other than Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the founder of the World Wide Web.

And how ironic that Sir Berners-Lee was speaking to the Lotusphere faithful about the open, semantic Web on a day when so many are protesting the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA, as it’s come to be known) as a means towards protecting intellectual property online.

(If you’re interested in learning more, Google has put up a landing page to explain their perspective on the legislation, but in the meantime, properties ranging from Wikipedia to BoingBoing have gone dark and silent in protest.)

As for Berners-Lee message, it was both history lesson and reminder from the past that’s what past is prologue. After Vinton Cerf invented TCP/IP to create the “internetwork” of all those computers, it was Berners-Lee who figured out a way to link all those computers in a more user-friendly (through the HTTP protocol via the WWW).

Now, we’re moving ever closer to the Semantic Web, where not only people, but machines, can understand instructions so we’re eliminating even more friction and sharing that much more information.  Berners-Lee seemed to throw a bit of a dart at the siloing of new unstructured data, like certain social networks who have walled off much of their data, but he seems bullish that the continued need to separate data from applications will differentiate the value of that data.

By way of example, Berners-Lee explained that people should be able to look at the same map, on Google Maps for instance, and the separation of the GPS data from the actual application has been what’s facilitated that.

So things that have previously been in those silos, Berners-Lee suggests, will not enable the same value creation should they stay in those silos, and the new value of social business is having people collaborate with all this information and with one another.

Watson, Come Here!

Next on the stage was Manoj Saxeona, general manager of IBM’s recently created Watson Solutions Software Group.

Hard to believe, it’s been a year since Watson beat the best “Jeopardy!” contestants in the world in a widely televised and celebrated match.  Now, Saxeona explained, it was time for Watson to stop playing and get down to work.

Manoj Saxena, the new general manager of Watson's Software Solutions unit at IBM, explains how Watson is quickly moving from play to work, and may even play a role in helping find a cure for cancer.

As Saxeona explained, currently, businesses are dying of thirst in an ocean of data.

Quick, somebody throw me a POWER7 lifeboat!

What most folks didn’t see behind the scenes during the Watson challenge was all the great technology that made Watson possible.

Watson brings together a set of transformational technologies that cultivate the following:

1. An understanding of natural language and human speech.

2) Generation and evaluation of hypothesis for better outcomes.

3. Adaptation and learning from user selections and responses.

The system is built atop a  massively parallel, probabilitistic evidence-based architecture optimized for IBM’s POWER7 processors, so it can process 200 million pieces of information in three seconds, which was the threshold it needed to perform and win at “Jeopardy!”

But what about in your doctor’s office.  Could Watson help your physician narrow a wide field of diagnoses into a very specific condition?

Absolutely.  In fact, medical information is doubling every 5 years, much of which is unstructured.

So for medical diagnostics, Watson can quickly sift through symptoms presented, along with background information like age and other relative demography, medications the patient is taking, and so forth, and then arrive at a narrower list of possible diagnosis.

It doesn’t replace the doctor.  It helps the doctor make a more informed decision.

We’ll just have to wait and see as to Watson’s bedside manners!

IBM And Scripps Foundation: Crowdsourcing A Cure For Malaria

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Consider this: In 2006, 247 million people became infected with malaria.

Nearly 1 million deaths are caused by malaria each year and 85 percent of those are children, who die from the disease at a rate of one every 30 seconds.

In fact, malaria is the leading cause of death in Africa for those under age five.

According to the World Health Organization, malaria is both a disease of poverty and a cause of poverty; survivors are often subject to impaired learning, school absences, lost work and increased economic distress. Where prevalent, the disease can account for 40 percent of all public health costs.  

There is no reliable cure or vaccine for the prevention and treatment of all forms of malaria — particularly the drug-resistant strains caused by Plasmodium falciparum, which kills more people than any other parasite and is of particular interest to the researchers.

Crowdsourcing A Cure For Malaria 

IBM’s Watson computing system broke new ground earlier this year when it defeated two celebrated human competitors on the “Jeopardy!” game show.

Now, The Scripps Research Institute is hoping to do something equally novel but more critical to human health with part of the prize money from that tournament: Find a cure for drug-resistant malaria.

And it’s asking for the public’s help.

Scripps Research and IBM are encouraging anyone in the world with a personal computer to join World Community Grid (WCG), a sort of “supercomputer of the people” that will crunch numbers and perform simulations for “GO Fight Against Malaria”—the project that Scripps Research and IBM have launched. 

World Community Grid is fed by spare computing power from the nearly 2 million PCs that have been volunteered so far by 575,000 people in more than 80 countries. 

Now that’s crowdsourcing!

Breaking It Down Into Wee Bits

WCG gives each PC small computing assignments to perform when the devices aren’t otherwise being used by its owners, then sends the results to scientists seeking a faster way to cure disease, find renewable energy materials, create clean water techniques, or develop healthier food staples.

Or, in this case, perform simulations for the fight against malaria.

Scripps Research, which has already used World Community Grid to discover two promising new inhibitors of HIV to advance the treatment of multi-drug-resistant AIDS, is now taking on the malaria project as well.

By tapping into World Community Grid — which turned seven years old just this past week — Scripps Research scientists hope to compress 100 years of computations normally necessary for the effort into just one year.

The scientists will use this resource to more quickly evaluate millions of compounds that may advance the development of drugs to cure mutant, drug-resistant strains of malaria.

Data from the experiments will then be made available to the public.

Elementary, My Dear Watson

Earlier this year, scientists for seven World Community Grid projects received half the $1 million first-place prize from the “Jeopardy!” game show tournament that saw IBM’s Watson computing system compete successfully against two former human champions.

Watson, named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, was built by a team of IBM scientists who set out to overcome a longstanding scientific challenge—building a computing system that rivals a human’s ability to answer questions posed in natural language with speed, accuracy and confidence.

“Working on malaria started as a hobby that I advanced during nights and weekends for a couple years, when I wasn’t working on FightAIDS@Home,” said Alex L. Perryman, Ph.D., a research associate in Scripps Research Professor Arthur Olson’s lab. “With persistence and a lot of help from IBM and from fellow Scripps Research scientists, we are now ready to launch the largest computational research project ever performed against drug-resistant malaria.”

The team at Scripps Research successfully proposed a project whose design and development would benefit from the winnings.  Perryman, who describes the malaria project in more detail here, explained that “Without the funding provided by some of the money that Watson won on “Jeopardy!,” this Global Online Fight Against Malaria project would not have been possible.”

Background: World Community Grid

World Community Grid is one of IBM’s exciting philanthropic initiatives. Founded in 2004 and running on Berkeley Open Infrastructre for Network Computing (BOINC) software, it provides computational power available to scientists who might not otherwise be able to afford the high speed computing they require for timely research.

To date, 19 research projects have been hosted on World Community Grid, spinning off 30 peer-reviewed papers.

Nine of the projects it has hosted have generated particularly promising results that are being further researched, or followed up with a second phase on World Community Grid.

If it were a physical supercomputer, World Community Grid would be one of the world’s 15 fastest such machines.

Go here to learn more and to participate in this important new research effort and help the global fight against malaria.

Written by turbotodd

November 22, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Watson To Take On Harvard And MIT

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Watson went to Boston earlier today to take on students from Harvard and MIT in a friendly game of "Jeopardy!"

At last week’s Information On Demand event in Las Vegas, we heard a lot about how the Watson technology is starting to permeate the marketplace.

There was much discussion around the use of Watson by Seton Hospitals using the new IBM Content and Predictive Analytics for Healthcare solution, and also about the continued expansion of Watson into other industries.

Today, we learned that IBM is headed to Harvard with Watson.  Not to go back to school, but to present a Watson symposium with the Harvard Business School and the MIT Sloan School of Management.

This event is bringing together some of the brightest academic minds to collaborate on the use of advanced analytics, like those powering Watson, to transform the way the world does business.

As part of the symposium, teams of students from Harvard and MIT will put their skills to the test in a demonstration of IBM Watson’s question answer (QA) capabilities in an exhibition game of the TV quiz show “Jeopardy!”

The commercialization of Watson technology means that today’s students will require new skill sets when they enter the job market. As future leaders in a wide range of industries and entrepreneurial ventures, students will need to combine business skills and knowledge with advanced analytical techniques to compete successfully in the world economy.

For example, when applied to banking and finance industry, Watson-like technologies can uncover hidden patterns in data that can rapidly identify market trends, and provide deep, integrated risk analysis. This provides financial services professionals a more accurate picture of their market positions, helping them better assess risk and hedge their financial exposures.

“Great technology companies like IBM are converting the seemingly impossible into reality these days, to the point that it’s hard to keep up with all the digital innovations and their business implications,”said Andrew McAfee, principal research scientist, MIT.

“So we thought it would be a good idea to devote a day to discussing them, and also seeing them in action. We’re going to spend the morning talking computer science and economics with the world’s leading experts in these fields, then cheer our students on against Watson in the afternoon. I predict at least a second place finish for the MIT team.”

Harvard Business School and MIT Sloan School of Management are the first two business schools where IBM will co-host a Watson symposium.

A team of researchers from MIT, led by Boris Katz, principal research scientist at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, contributed code to the QuestionAnswer capabilities in Watson.

Harvard Business School’s Professor Shih recently wrote an in-depth case study of Watson that is will be used by MBA students in the School’s required first-year course Technology and Operations Management.

Follow the event and share your thoughts at #IBMWatson and the live blog at www.asmarterplanet.com, or via Facebook at www.facebook.com/ibmwatson

Written by turbotodd

October 31, 2011 at 5:30 pm

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