Archive for the ‘watson’ Category
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.
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.
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.
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.
This morning at Information On Demand 2011, IBM introduced new software for the healthcare industry to help health care providers and payers improve patient care and reduce costs.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, one in five patients suffer from preventable readmissions, which represents $17.4 billion of the current $102.6 billion Medicare budget. Beginning in 2012, hospitals will be penalized for high readmission rates with reductions in Medicare discharge payments.
The new software offering uses content analytics similar to what is found in IBM’s Watson technology. IBM today introduced new software for the healthcare industry to help health care providers and payers improve patient care and reduce costs. The new software offering uses content analytics similar to what is found in IBM’s Watson technology.
Seton Healthcare Family is the first client to adopt and use the technology, called “IBM Content and Predictive Analytics for Healthcare.”
The solution will allow healthcare organizations to extract relevant clinical information from vast amounts of patient data to better analyze the past, understand the present, and predict future outcomes.
Calling Dr. Watson
By combining IBM’s Watson technology with industry solutions offerings, Seton intends to focus the new content and predictive analytics solution on the root causes of hospital readmissions, and ways it can decrease preventable multiple hospital visits.
Most healthcare organizations are drowning in data but are challenged to gain reliable, actionable insights from this information. In fact, more than 80 percent of an institution’s data today is unstructured. In healthcare, this is in the form of physician notes, registration forms, discharge summaries, documents and more is doubling every five years. Different from machine- ready data, this content lacks structure and is arduous for healthcare enterprises to include in business analysis and therefore is routinely left out. As a result, millions of patient notes and records often sit unavailable in separate clinical data silos. This content contains valuable information, but there’s historically been no easy way to analyze it.
IBM Content and Predictive Analytics for Healthcare enables doctors and healthcare professionals to go far beyond traditional search and analysis of unstructured data. They can advance diagnosis and treatment by accurately extracting medical facts and understanding relationships buried in large volumes of clinical and operational data.
The IBM solution transforms raw information into healthcare insight quickly by revealing trends, patterns, deviations and predicting the probability of outcomes, allowing organizations to derive insight in minutes versus weeks or months, or not at all. As a result, healthcare professionals can find more effective ways to care for high-risk patients, provide safer patient care, and develop new models for reimbursement for quality care.
Powered By POWER
The new IBM solution gives clinical and other knowledge workers and executives several ways to interact with analyzed information including searching, exploring, mining, monitoring and reporting. It delivers a set of proven technologies that meet the rigorous standards and requirements of the healthcare community.
The software is also compatible with IBM’s Health Integration Framework, which means healthcare organizations can realize more value from existing information system investments such as data warehouse, business intelligence, master data management and advanced case management.
IBM is offering new content and predictive solution services through its Business Analytics and Optimization initiatives, which includes a new center of competence for UIMA-based text analysis solutions. This center of competence draws on resources from IBM Global Services, IBM Software Lab Services, and the IBM jStart emerging technology team.
IBM Content and Predictive Analytics for Healthcare is optimized to run on IBM Power Systems, which are designed for high throughput and complex analysis of structured and unstructured data. Built on the foundation of IBM POWER7 processor technology, Power Systems are available at many different price points and can be tailor fit for purpose and rapidly deployed for a broad range of customer environments with leadership performance, ease of management and efficiency.
For more information go here. IBM Content and Predictive Analytics for Healthcare.
If you’ve been wondering whether our IBM intelligent Q&A technology Watson (no relation) was going to ever go out and get a real job, you need wait no longer.
Just as the Watson v. Jeopardy contest is set to start being rebroadcast here in North America this very day, IBM and Wellpoint announced an agreement today to create the first commercial applications of the IBM Watson technology.
WellPoint is the nation’s largest health benefits company in terms of medical membership, with 34 million members in its affiliated health plans, and a total of more than 70 million individuals served through its subsidiaries.
Under the agreement, Wellpoint will develop and launch Watson-based solutions to help improve patient care through the delivery of up-to-date, evidence-based health care for millions of Americans.
IBM will develop the foundational Watson healthcare technology on which WellPoint’s solution will run.
What Is Watson?
Watson, named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, is a computing system built by a team of IBM scientists who set out to accomplish a grand challenge â€“- build a computing system that rivals a human’s ability to answer questions posed in natural language with speed, accuracy and confidence.
Earlier this year, Watson competed and won against two of the most celebrated players ever to appear on Jeopardy!. This historic match is being rebroadcast over three days, starting today.
Watson’s ability to analyze the meaning and context of human language, and quickly process vast amounts of information to suggest options targeted to a patient’s circumstances, can assist decision makers, such as physicians and nurses, in identifying the most likely diagnosis and treatment options for their patients.
In recent years, few areas have advanced as rapidly as health care. For physicians, incorporating hundreds of thousands of articles into practice and applying them to patient care is a significant challenge.
Watson can sift through an equivalent of about 1 million books or roughly 200 million pages of data, and analyze this information and provide precise responses in less than three seconds.
Watson: Helping Doctors With Their Diagnostics
Using this extraordinary capability WellPoint is expected to enable Watson to allow physicians to easily coordinate medical data programmed into Watson with specified patient factors, to help identify the most likely diagnosis and treatment options in complex cases. Watson is expected to serve as a powerful tool in the physician’s decision making process.
Medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, chronic heart or kidney disease are incredibly intricate. New solutions incorporating Watson are being developed to have the ability to look at massive amounts of medical literature, population health data, and even a patient’s health record, in compliance with applicable privacy and security laws, to answer profoundly complex questions.
For example, we envision that new applications will allow physicians to use Watson to consult patient medical histories, recent test results, recommended treatment protocols and the latest research findings loaded into Watson to discuss the best and most effective courses of treatment with their patients.
“There are breathtaking advances in medical science and clinical knowledge, however; this clinical information is not always used in the care of patients. Imagine having the ability to take in all the information around a patient’s medical care — symptoms, findings, patient interviews and diagnostic studies. Then, imagine using Watson analytic capabilities to consider all of the prior cases, the state-of-the-art clinical knowledge in the medical literature and clinical best practices to help a physician advance a diagnosis and guide a course of treatment,” said Sam Nussbaum, M.D., WellPoint’s Chief Medical Officer.
“We believe this will be an invaluable resource for our partnering physicians and will dramatically enhance the quality and effectiveness of medical care they deliver to our members.”
Watson may help physicians identify treatment options that balance the interactions of various drugs and narrow among a large group of treatment choices, enabling physicians to quickly select the more effective treatment plans for their patients.
It is also expected to streamline communication between a patient’s physician and their health plan, helping to improve efficiency in clinical review of complex cases. It could even be used to direct patients to the physician in their area with the best success in treating a particular illness.
Depending on the progress of the development efforts, WellPoint anticipates employing Watson technology in early 2012, working with select physician groups in clinical pilots.
You can visit here to learn more about the IBM Watson technology.
If you missed your chance to watch the competition aired nationally in North America this past February between IBM and America’s favorite quiz show Jeopardy!, fear not: IBM announced today that Jeopardy! will broadcast an encore presentation of the first-ever man vs. machine Jeopardy! competition between IBM’s “Watson” computing system and the show’s two greatest contestants – Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.
Millions of North American viewers will be able to again witness TV history as Watson successfully competes against two human champions in two matches played over three consecutive days, September 12, 13, and 14, 2011.
(Spoiler Alert: developerWorks’ Scott Laningham and I interviewed the principal investigator and project lead of the Watson effort, Dr. David Ferrucci, during this year’s SXSW Interactive conference in March of this year. Do NOT watch the video Q&A below if you haven’t yet seen the broadcast/re-broadcast if you don’t want to spoil the ending! In the interview, Ferrucci explains in some detail the AI methods behind Watson’s madness!)
“With the Jeopardy! challenge, we accomplished what was thought to be impossible – building a computer system that operates in the near limitless, ambiguous and highly contextual realm of human language and knowledge,” said Dr. David Ferrucci, IBM Fellow and scientist leading the IBM Research team that created Watson. “Watching the match again reminds us of the great power and potential behind Watson to be able to make sense of the massive amounts of data around us and to solve problems in new ways.”
Six months after the original competition, Watson’s Deep Question Answering (QA) technology has already driven progress in new fields such as the healthcare industry. IBM is working with Nuance Communications, Inc. to explore and develop applications to help critical decision makers, such as physicians and nurses, process large volumes of health information in order to deliver quicker and more accurate patient diagnoses. Working with universities and clients, IBM is identifying many potential uses for Watson’s underlying QA technology.
The technology underlying Watson analyzes the structure and wording of the question or challenge being investigated, and formulates an answer that it has the highest level of ‘confidence’ is correct. Watson answers ‘natural language’ questions, which can contain puns, slang, jargon and acronyms that must all be evaluated as part of Watson’s confidence in returning an answer.
“We recognized the Jeopardy! IBM Challenge was not only a historic moment for television, but also for scientific discovery and innovation,” said Harry Friedman, executive producer of Jeopardy! “We wanted to provide the opportunity for more viewers to once again enjoy this ground-breaking exhibition match.”
IBM and the other contestants gave $1.25 million to charity, with $1 million coming from IBM.
What is Watson?
Watson, named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, is a breakthrough human achievement in the scientific field of Question and Answering, also known as “QA.” The Watson software is powered by an IBM POWER7 server optimized to handle the massive number of tasks that Watson must perform at rapid speeds to analyze complex language and answer questions posed in natural language with speed, accuracy and confidence.
Beyond providing correct responses, Watson had to analyze Jeopardy! clues that involved subtle meaning, irony, riddles, and other complexities in which humans excel and computers traditionally do not. The system incorporates a number of proprietary technologies for the specialized demands of processing an enormous number of concurrent tasks and data while analyzing information in real time.
You can learn more about the Watson research initiative here.
“Thank you for the honor.”
That’s all the words IBM’s Watson will be able to convey were it to be able to stand up on the stage and accept its Webby Award.
Watson was just named person of the year by the Webbys, which is an interesting way of categorizing the IBM supercomputer that outplayed Jeopardy! world champions back in February.
What’s all this, you say? Well, the fact is, Webby award speeches have historically been limited to five (and typically, very carefully chosen) words.
Although with all that brain power, I’m sure Watson could come up with something better and much more clever than the five I selected. I just wanted to make sure it didn’t seem like Watson was ungrateful.
Congratulations, Watson. You earned every word.
If you’re interested in watching, the 15th annual Webby Awards ceremony will be held June 13 and hosted by Lisa Kudrow. The show will stream live on numerous outlets, including via Facebook and the Huffington Post.
Back in Orlando, Florida, Innovate 2011 is preparing to get going over the weekend. I mentioned in a previous post that software guru Grady Booch will actually be speaking about Watson at the conference.
Of course, we’re giving Grady more than just five words, as he has quite a bit to say about the software methods behind Watson’s madness.
My good buddy Scott Laningham from developerWorks recently conducted a Q&A with IBM Rational software guru Grady Booch. You can check it out in the video down at the bottom of this post.
He also talked to the “hat lady.” I’m not going to explain who the “hat lady” is. If you don’t know who she is, you can find out via the video!
And FYI, Booch is going to be doing a keynote at Innovate 2011 about the Watson technology (remember Watson V. Jeopardy!, where the computer won back in February??). Booch is going to go deep on the subject from the Innovate stage in Orlando. You can learn more in Scott’s interview.
Speaking of Watson, as we head into a long holiday weekend here in the U.S., let it be known that IBM announced earlier today the expansion of its Health Analytics Solution Center in Dallas, Texas.
Some background: Since opening in Big D in late 2009, the HASC has worked with more than 150 hospitals, health plans, and other healthcare organizations to drive smarter healthcare. It provides clients access to health analytics experts, tech architects, and specialists, as well as to hundreds of health industry experts from across IBM.
As part of HASC’s expansion, the center is incorporating some of the same technology used in IBM’s Watson. Using sophisticated analytics to understand the meaning and context of medical information, advanced health analytics is increasingly being used to help healthcare orgs gain new insight from the explosion of health data growing at the rate of 35 percent per year!
In the meantime, have a great, long, restful holiday weekend, and please, for those of you in the American family, don’t forget to remember those who have given their lives in the service of this country.
Until next week…and now, here’s Scott, Grady, and the “hat lady!”
During the recent SXSW Interactive fest here in Austin, developerWorks’ Scott Laningham and I had the opportunity to sit down and do an interview with the principal investigator behind the Watson Deep QA technology, Dr. David Ferrucci.
You may recognize Ferrucci from some of his recent TV appearances (or the IBM smarter planet TV spots addressing the power and opportunity the Watson technology presents).
Me, I was just glad to have the opportunity, along with Scott, to ask some specific questions that had been on my mind about Watson. And also to point out to Dr. Ferrucci that I had the last name Watson before our supercomputer did!
It was a fun and fascinating 13 minutes, and, for my money, one of the highlight interviews Scott and I have conducted in recent times.
Continued kudos to Ferrucci and his entire IBM team for such a great success with Watson. Clearly, the Jeopardy! victory is just a launching point for the exciting new places where this new technology is likely to take us from here.