Turbotodd

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

Archive for the ‘cognitive computing’ Category

IBM and MIT to Pursue Joint Research in Artificial Intelligence

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IBM and MIT today announced that IBM plans to make a 10-year, $240 million investment to create the MIT–IBM Watson AI Lab in partnership with MIT. The lab will carry out fundamental artificial intelligence (AI) research and seek to propel scientific breakthroughs that unlock the potential of AI.

The collaboration aims to advance AI hardware, software and algorithms related to deep learning and other areas, increase AI’s impact on industries, such as health care and cybersecurity, and explore the economic and ethical implications of AI on society. IBM’s $240 million investment in the lab will support research by IBM and MIT scientists.

The new lab will be one of the largest long-term university-industry AI collaborations to date, mobilizing the talent of more than 100 AI scientists, professors, and students to pursue joint research at IBM’s Research Lab in Cambridge — co-located with the IBM Watson Health and IBM Security headquarters in Kendall Square, in Cambridge, Massachusetts — and on the neighboring MIT campus.

The lab will be co-chaired by IBM Research VP of AI and IBM Q, Dario Gil, and Anantha P. Chandrakasan, dean of MIT’s School of Engineering. IBM and MIT plan to issue a call for proposals to MIT researchers and IBM scientists to submit their ideas for joint research to push the boundaries in AI science and technology in several areas, including:

  • AI algorithms: Developing advanced algorithms to expand capabilities in machine learning and reasoning. Researchers will create AI systems that move beyond specialized tasks to tackle more complex problems, and benefit from robust, continuous learning. Researchers will invent new algorithms that can not only leverage big data when available, but also learn from limited data to augment human intelligence.
  • Physics of AI: Investigating new AI hardware materials, devices, and architectures that will support future analog computational approaches to AI model training and deployment, as well as the intersection of quantum computing and machine learning. The latter involves using AI to help characterize and improve quantum devices, and also researching the use of quantum computing to optimize and speed up machine-learning algorithms and other AI applications.
  • Application of AI to industries: Given its location in IBM Watson Health and IBM Security headquarters and Kendall Square, a global hub of biomedical innovation, the lab will develop new applications of AI for professional use, including fields such as health care and cybersecurity. The collaboration will explore the use of AI in areas such as the security and privacy of medical data, personalization of healthcare, image analysis, and the optimum treatment paths for specific patients.
  • Advancing shared prosperity through AI: The MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab will explore how AI can deliver economic and societal benefits to a broader range of people, nations, and enterprises. The lab will study the economic implications of AI and investigate how AI can improve prosperity and help individuals achieve more in their lives.

In addition to IBM’s plan to produce innovations that advance the frontiers of AI, a distinct objective of the new lab is to encourage MIT faculty and students to launch companies that will focus on commercializing AI inventions and technologies that are developed at the lab. The lab’s scientists also will publish their work, contribute to the release of open source material, and foster an adherence to the ethical application of AI.

Both MIT and IBM have been pioneers in artificial intelligence research, and the new AI lab builds on a decades-long research relationship between the two. In 2016, IBM Research announced a multi-year collaboration with MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences to advance the scientific field of machine vision, a core aspect of artificial intelligence.

The collaboration has brought together leading brain, cognitive, and computer scientists to conduct research in the field of unsupervised machine understanding of audio-visual streams of data, using insights from next-generation models of the brain to inform advances in machine vision. In addition, IBM and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard have established a five-year, $50 million research collaboration on AI and Genomics.

For more information, visit MITIBMWatsonAILab.mit.edu.

Written by turbotodd

September 7, 2017 at 9:09 am

IBM Watson and Sesame Workshop Introduce Intelligent Play and Learning Platform on IBM Cloud

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If it weren’t for Big Bird, Kermit the Frog, and all the rest of my puppet teachers on Sesame Street, I wouldn’t likely be able to write this blog post.

Like so many millions of other kids coming of age in the 70s and 80s, Sesame Street was my equivalent of a mobile learning app or private tutor.

The tradition of having the Sesame family helping find new and novel ways of teaching continues.

IBM and Sesame Workshop today announced that Georgia’s Gwinnett County Public Schools, one of the nation’s top urban school districts, has completed an initial pilot of the industry’s first cognitive vocabulary learning app, built on the IBM and Sesame intelligent play and learning platform.

The new platform, powered by IBM Cloud, enables an ecosystem of software developers, researchers, educational toy companies, and educators to tap IBM Watson cognitive capabilities and Sesame Workshop’s early childhood expertise to build engaging experiences to help advance children’s education and learning.

The cognitive vocabulary app is one of the first of many cognitive apps, games, and educational toys that will be built over time on this new platform, as a result of the two companies’ collaboration announced last year.

The Gwinnett pilot program marks the first time that Sesame Workshop expertise and Watson technology have been introduced into classrooms to be tested by students and educators.

In the initial phase, Gwinnett kindergartners and teachers in six classrooms engaged with a tablet-based, cognitive vocabulary app built on the Watson-powered intelligent play and learning platform to enhance vocabulary development of students. Fueled by Sesame learning design, this adaptive app features beloved Sesame Street characters alongside educational videos and word games.

Based on the initial Gwinnett pilot, with an expanded pilot currently being planned for this Fall, IBM and Sesame collected 18,000 feedback points from 120 students that helped determine a more accurate progression of words they were exposed to over a two-week period.

In the pilot, students learned words that are deemed challenging for kindergarteners, including “arachnid,” “amplify,” “camouflage,” and “applause,” with initial observations showing that many students appeared to acquire new vocabulary as a result of the app. In fact, one teacher noted: “We are studying animals, and children were able to notice various forms of ‘camouflage’ among animal skin patterns.” Another teacher said: “When we found a spider in the classroom, a student yelled, ‘an arachnid’!” Participating teachers overwhelmingly agreed that the app was a valuable addition to their class.

Watson’s augmented intelligence capabilities are designed to enable the app to provide digital assistance in the classroom. Teachers can monitor children’s vocabulary development in real-time through a secure dashboard and adjust lessons, pacing, and curriculum to each child’s needs.

The app will use adaptive assessments to determine a child’s current vocabulary range, and then deliver vocabulary learning experiences that focus on specific words. Continuously learning as a child engages with the app, words and areas that require additional focus are refined to deliver content and experiences that are engaging, fun and inspiring.

“Sesame Workshop is committed to reaching and teaching children in the critical years between ages 0-5, meeting them wherever they are and adapting to the ways they learn best,” said Jeffrey D. Dunn, CEO of Sesame Workshop. “Educational technology like the platform we’ve created with IBM Watson is a promising new channel for learning opportunities inside and outside the classroom, and we’re excited to explore it further.”

This app is still in early stages of development and it is being used as a vehicle to establish evidence of learning at scale. The current pilot is the first phase of a process to understand whether multi-modal learning experiences can improve vocabulary and literary.

This app and others like it will soon be available on the IBM Cloud for wide adoption in schools globally. These and other educational experiences being developed on the new Platform will be modular and easy to customize, built with the needs of educators and administrators in mind. A key partner in this unique co-design process, Gwinnett County Public Schools has offered insights and feedback as joint research and development teams from IBM and Sesame Workshop evolve the app.

Gwinnett County Public Schools CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks was excited about the opportunity to participate in this pilot with Sesame and longtime strategic technology partner IBM. He explained: “This vocabulary learning app complements our efforts to transform the classroom, actively engaging students in a fun and interactive way. Technology is a basic tool for today’s learner; and with this app, our very youngest learners had the opportunity to learn new words and expand their vocabulary.”

Gwinnett’s pilot of the cognitive vocabulary learning app is only the beginning of what’s possible with this technology. IBM and Sesame are customizing Watson for early childhood as well as developing new capabilities for it. Educational toys, apps, and games enabled with Watson’s speech- and image-recognition capabilities are expected to take the platform’s personalized learning beyond the classroom.

These products will be designed to engage directly with children and caregivers to deliver context-rich play experiences around literacy, emotional learning, and school preparedness, all adapted to each child’s preferences and learning patterns.

For more information on today’s news, please visit: https://ibm.co/sesameandibm.

Written by turbotodd

June 6, 2017 at 9:08 am

IBM Taps Next Generation Leaders For Watson Innovation

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The Watson Case Competition at USC, the third in a series hosted by IBM, is the latest example of IBM's work with academia to advance interest among students in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) curriculums that will lead to high-impact, high-value careers. The competition is in keeping with IBM's Academic Initiative which delivers course work, case studies and curricula to more than 6,000 universities and 30,000 faculty members worldwide to help students prepare for high-value future job opportunities.

The Watson Case Competition at USC, the third in a series hosted by IBM, is the latest example of IBM’s work with academia to advance interest among students in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) curriculums that will lead to high-impact, high-value careers. The competition is in keeping with IBM’s Academic Initiative which delivers course work, case studies and curricula to more than 6,000 universities and 30,000 faculty members worldwide to help students prepare for high-value future job opportunities.

While I was out trying to grok all things SXSW Interactive these past several days, IBM continued with its efforts to put IBM Watson to work for the betterment of mankind by turning to the next generation of brilliant young minds to help figure out where Watson should work next.

Imagine a Watson-powered system that could uncover data-driven insights to help medical professionals identify those who may be suffering silently from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Imagine a Watson that could provide lawyers with faster research capabilities to improve their cases.

Imagine a Watson that could help businesses hire the best talent in the job market.

This is the magnitude of ideas sparked by more than 100 University of Southern California students who gathered recently to compete in the IBM Watson Academic Case Competition.

A debut on the West Coast, the Case Competition put USC students in the spotlight to create business plans for applying Watson to pressing business and societal challenges — and IBM business leaders were present and listening carefully.

IBM: Partnering To Learn

IBM partners with thousands of universities to offer curricula, internships and hands-on experiences to help students learn first hand about new technologies in the fields of Big Data, analytics and cognitive computing.

The company is at the forefront of creating a new workforce of Big Data trained professionals, from IBM’s collaboration with Cleveland Clinic, which provides Watson as a collaborative learning tool for medical students, to its public-private partnership with the New York City Department of Education and the City University of New York to create the Pathways in Technology Early College High School program (P-TECH), which allows students to participate in a six year science and technology program and graduate with an associates degree for free in computer science or engineering.

To kick-off the competition at USC’s campus, IBM provided students with a crash course on Watson’s breakthrough capabilities, including a demonstration of how Watson is helping WellPoint, Inc. and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center improve the speed and quality of treatment for cancer patients.

As the first cognitive computing system of its kind in the marketplace, Watson is able to understand and process the subtleties of human questions, sift through vast amounts of data, and use sophisticated analytics to generate fast, accurate answers for its human users.

Watson also learns from its interactions, constantly improving with each use. This represents a major shift in organizations’ ability to quickly analyze, understand and respond to Big Data, in industries such as healthcare — and this is where student minds were put to the test.

As part of the competition, students were assigned into 24 teams and given 48 hours to define a new purpose for Watson, develop a business plan, and present it to a panel of judges comprising school officials, IBM executives and local business leaders.

The challenge was unique among USC competitions because students worked toward a common goal with peers from other disciplines — similar to how IBM combines the talent of business leaders and research scientists to develop its patented innovations.

To foster interdisciplinary collaboration, each team was required to have at least one business and one engineering member, from USC’s Marshall Business School and Viterbi School of Engineering.

What’s Your Business Plan For Watson?

The student teams faced two rounds of judging based on four areas of criteria: how well the concept and supporting plan articulated and supported the team’s vision; the feasibility of bringing the product or service to market and the supporting elements; the extent the proposed solution leverages Watson’s key capabilities; and the team’s presentation. Three winning ideas were selected by a panel of eight industry and faculty judges, including representatives from Bank of America, Ernst & Young, and IBM.

  • 1st Place – Legal Research: Let Watson Do the Discovery for Your Next Legal Case – For corporate legal departments, building a case — or defending one’s own — relies heavily on fast and accurate research. Past legal trials, court documents, articles and digital evidence: all of these materials can make or break a case, and together they comprise a sea of unstructured data that is both time-consuming and costly to pore through. The first place USC team proposed using Watson to process its users’ research needs, based on its ability to think like a human, quickly sift through online legal documents for facts, and not only identify evidence to support a case — but forecast its probability of success. The first place team’s viewpoint: by placing Watson in charge of research, firms can recover time and costs, while delivering better legal outcomes. In turn, firms that leverage Watson’s speed and efficiency can address the growing legal trend towards “flat fee” billing and research outsourcing.
  • 2nd Place – Employee Training: Watson Uncovers the Keys to Success for Your Employees – According to the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), 41 percent of employees at companies with inadequate training programs plan to leave within a year, versus 12 percent of employees at companies who provide excellent training and professional development programs. Conversely, the ASTD also states that effective employee training can lead to 218 percent higher income per employee and 45 percent higher shareholder return than market average. The second place USC team proposes that corporate human resource departments use Watson to optimize employee training, by crunching data pertaining to the employers’ HR needs, the employees’ career goals, and the range of training options available that can help both parties succeed. The second place team’s viewpoint: by improving employee satisfaction and retention, a Watson-powered employee training system can also drive higher shareholder value.
  • 3rd Place – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Watson Helps Doctors Find Patients – It is reported that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder affects nearly 7.7 million U.S. adults aged 18 and older. This includes people who have served in combat, experienced domestic violence, have been in car accidents, or other traumatic events. Many with PTSD suffer silently, including the 400,000+ U.S. veterans who have yet to be identified and treated, per the U.S. Veterans Administration. Thankfully, the catalysts behind this illness need no longer remain invisible — due largely to Big Data. For example, there are now unprecedented amounts of data that accompany soldiers who return from war, from medical histories to information on combat experiences. The third place USC team proposes that physicians use Watson to identify people who may develop PTSD, by uncovering insights from data that can help piece together their personal story and shed light on pain he or she may be experiencing. The team’s viewpoint: by helping physicians find and diagnose those suffering from PTSD, Watson can help medical professionals offer patients the treatment they deserve.

Fueling Innovation While Investing In The Next Generation Of Tech Leaders

This competition is the latest example of how IBM is fueling innovation and working with students in higher education to hone valuable business skills that will shape the next generation of industry leaders.

"Partnering with universities such as USC gives IBM a unique opportunity to tap into the minds of our next-generation of leaders, whose training, skills and ideas for changing the world are all forward-thinking and based on a desire to make a meaningful impact,” said Manoj Saxena, IBM General Manager, Watson Solutions. "These students see what Watson is doing right now and think -- how else will cognitive computing impact my life and career in the years to come? To us, that's exactly the mindset that should be fueling IBM innovations, and the very reason we host Watson Academic Case Competitions."

“Partnering with universities such as USC gives IBM a unique opportunity to tap into the minds of our next-generation of leaders, whose training, skills and ideas for changing the world are all forward-thinking and based on a desire to make a meaningful impact,” said Manoj Saxena, IBM General Manager, Watson Solutions, about the new initiative. “These students see what Watson is doing right now and think — how else will cognitive computing impact my life and career in the years to come? To us, that’s exactly the mindset that should be fueling IBM innovations, and the very reason we host Watson Academic Case Competitions.”

Due to the overwhelming response from USC students seeking to participate in the Watson Academic Case Competition, students had to join a waiting list, once the 24-team maximum had been reached. One faculty sponsor, noting that the level of interest was unprecedented for a campus case competition, predicted registration could reach 500 next year.

“For USC students, the opportunity to share their own ideas with IBM on how to commercialize Watson is truly a unique experience,” said Ashish Soni, Executive Director of Digital Innovation and Founding Director of the Viterbi Student Innovation Institute at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. “As educators, we’re quite pleased to see students getting excited about cognitive computing innovation, because we know there’s a business demand for the types of skills they get to showcase in Watson Case Competitions.”

Watson — Building a New Big Data Workforce 

It’s no secret that employers across the U.S. are seeking job candidates who can analyze and build strategy around Big Data, or the 2.5 quintillion bytes of information gleaned from sensors, mobile devices, online transactions and social networks, to name just a few sources. A recent Gartner report estimates that 1.9 million Big Data jobs will be created in the U.S. by 2015.

The Watson Case Competition at USC, the third in a series hosted by IBM, is the latest example of IBM’s work with academia to advance interest among students in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) curriculums that will lead to high-impact, high-value careers. The competition is in keeping with IBM’s Academic Initiative which delivers course work, case studies and curricula to more than 6,000 universities and 30,000 faculty members worldwide to help students prepare for high-value future job opportunities.

IBM worked closely with academic institutions during the development and introduction of Watson. Eight leading universities around the world participated in the development phase of the system; and more than 10,000 students watched Watson triumph on the Jeopardy! quiz show in February 2011. Most recently, IBM announced it would provide a modified version of an IBM Watson system to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, making it the first university to receive such a system that will enable leading-edge research by faculty and students.

The competition at USC marks the latest collaboration between the university and IBM. Over the last two years, students at the school’s Annenberg Innovation Lab have been using Big Data analytics technologies to conduct social sentiment analyses and determine public engagement on topics such as sports, film, retail and fashion.

Two of the biggest projects looked at Major League Baseball’s World Series and the Academy Awards, projects developed for students to explore and expand their skills as they prepare for new data-intensive careers.  IBM also collaborated with the USC Marshall School of Business for “The Great Mind Challenge,” a global academic initiative focused on providing students with an opportunity to turn their social networking savvy into business ready skills to prepare for the jobs of the future.

Live From IBM Pulse 2013: Dr. Danny Sabbah — The Internet Is The Computer

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Danny Sabbah

Dr. Danny Sabbah, CTO and general manager for IBM Next Generation Architecture, extols on the promise and virtues of the nexus between “systems of engagement” and “systems of record” at the opening general session of IBM Pulse 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada, earlier today.

Welcome to the world of the hybrid cloud and legacy application environment, a merger of the front office and the back, the nexus of the burgeoning mobile and social milieu (the “systems of engagement”) with the systems of record.

This was the key message delivered in the opening general session of IBM Pulse 2013 here at the almost packed MGM Grand Garden arena here in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The opening itself was another kind of hybrid, one that featured a number of skilled percussionists drumming in the key messages of the challenges and opportunities facing IT organizations around the globe.

Speed is a constant.  Change is a constant.  Declining budgets are a constant.  What’s the variable?

The opportunity to create new kinds of value for the organization by better fusing business assets, facilities, infrastructure, and data into a seamless and holistic view of the entire operation, one whereby you help your organization better gain increased visibility, control, and automation.

In short, to move from being a cost center to a center of strategic business innovation, and to turn opportunities into outcomes.

Are you prepared to take on this new challenge?

IBM Tivoli marketing guru Scott Hebner entered the stage to set the stage for IBM Pulse 2013, explaining there were 8,000+ attendees from over 80 countries around the globe, and that the depth and breadth and diversity of experience in this room (and we’re talking about a pretty big room…like, as in, Carrie Underwood will be playing this room for Pulse this evening) was unprecedented.

Scott started his opening by asking a few key questions of the gathered infrastructure management faithful: Where does an infrastructure begin and where does it end?  How do we make it become more interconnected and instrumented so we can garner more value from existing assets?

Scott explained that we’re all sitting on a staggering amount of operational data, both animate and inanimate — and not just in the traditional data center, either.  In your tractors.  Your warehouses.  Your office buildings.

And this “operational big data” residing in all those assets is an enormous opportunity, one that allows us to better understand the “exact condition of everything in real-time.” Which means also extracting new value from those assets and, hence, being able to then provide better services to our organizations and users.

But the climbing of this new mountain of data has its challenges.  For one, skills.  IDC expects 7 million new cloud computing positions to come online, 6X that over the rest of IT employment.  That means new skills, new training, new…students.

Which is one of the primary reasons we’re all gathered here in Lost Wages, to come together and learn from the experts and one another, to improve the economics of IT, and to uncover those growth opportunities.

Scott introduced a customer who flew all the way here from down under, in Melbourne, Australia, to share their experience in this new frontier of computing.

Neal Roberts, the CIO of Yarra Trams, is part of a team that oversees the largest tram network in the world, one with 250 kilometers of track and nearly 500 tram cars that travel some 185 million track miles per year!

First, Yarra’s values, which help drive both the team and the trams: Think like a passenger, do Zero harm, and provide Continuous Improvement.

The first two are pretty self-evident, but the third, continuous improvement, takes some concerted and coordinated effort and a lot of hard work.

That coordination increasingly takes place between the line of business and IT organizations.  And Mr. Roberts explained that “We’re all facing the same challenges. Trying to manage the velocity of change, and to become centers of innovation while reinventing the customer relationship.”

For Yarra, that meant driving a symbiosis of asset management and location information, the so-called systems of record, with the real-time notification opportunities of social media data.

It goes a little something like this: The rains come, puts a tram out of service when it gets flooded, the operations center is notified, the operations center schedules a dispatch to fix the train, the schedule is altered, data is streamed to the public cloud (including a mobile app for tram users) to notify them automagically the train schedule has been disrupted/altered, the tram eventually gets fixed, all goes back to normal.

Yarra Tram

Yarra Tram of Melbourne, Australia, uses IBM Maximo asset management technology to bridge to “systems of engagement” and inform Melbourne citizens when trams are out of service so they can make other arrangement.s

No problem, the trams are back to running on time.

Dr. Danny Sabbah, CTO and general manager of IBM Next Generation Platforms, picked it up from there.

Dr. Sabbah observed that we are truly at an inflection point, and that since last year, the key themes which emerged around securing the cloud, mobile, and embedded solutions, have only become more important, and that we’re now seeing this increased integration of public cloud data and the existing services.

That is again the important nexus to focus on, because it is from that nexus that we’ll see increasing value unlocked by organizations around the globe, and it’s a new stage in the evolution of technology and the importance of data.

Dr. Sabbah included a key example: Mobile devices are anticipated to account for 40% of access to all kinds of business applications in the next few years.

And as a result of this, big data is joining mobile and cloud as the next must have competency.

“Devices are becoming more intelligent and communicating even more data,” Sabbah continued, and we’re getting “smart buildings, smart grids, and smarter healthcare. None of these are operating in isolated silos.”

“The convergence of these technologies,” he explained, “is driving the Internet of things.”

And yet intelligent interconnection and instrumentation is making it increasingly hard to balance efficiency and innovation. Sabbah explained, “The drive for innovation drives a commensurate need for technology optimization” and that optimization is what helps free up finite IT resources for focusing on innovation.

That is also another reason IBM has put so much muscle behind its PureSystems line of technology, with the express intention of freeing up people, time, and money from mundane operational tasks of server administration, data routines, etc., so they can work on value added projects!

The new cloud and mobile-based “systems of engagement” spoken of earlier, along with the systems of record from the past 40 years of computing, aren’t going away, and in fact, the opportunity for these systems to interact and interoperate extracts new value.  But that requires flexibility (read: openness) in their infrastructure design, because different workloads are coming together — some require new levels of optimization, others new levels of maintenance, and some towards speed of delivery.

But, ultimately, flexible architectures allow us to mash up new services, so that those organizations who build flexibility into their infrastructure DNA are those “most poised to win.”

Getting there will require rapid iteration and the continued “reduction of confused and conflicting infrastructure and software.”

“It’s not the network that’s the computer,” Sabbah wound down.  “It’s the Internet that’s the computer.”

Dr. Watson Finds Bedside Manner

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Back in September of 2011 I mentioned in this blog post that one of Watson’s first jobs outside of playing Jeopardy! was going to be in the healthcare industry.

Well, earlier today WellPoint, Inc. and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center today unveiled the first commercially developed Watson-based cognitive computing breakthroughs.

These innovations stand alone to help transform the quality and speed of care delivered to patients through individualized, evidence based medicine.

Check out this short video to learn more about how physicians and other medical professionals are able to use IBM’s Watson technology to help them with their medical diagnostic tasks.

The American Cancer Society projects that 1.6 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed in the U.S. this year alone.  Studies suggest that the complexities associated with healthcare have caused one in five health care patients to receive a wrong or incomplete diagnosis.

These statistics, coupled with a data explosion of medical information that is doubling every five years, represents an unprecedented opportunity for the health care industry and next generation cognitive computing systems, to combine forces in new ways to improve how medicine is taught, practiced and paid for.

For more than a year now, IBM has partnered separately with WellPoint and Memorial Sloan-Kettering to train Watson in the areas of oncology and utilization management.

During this time, clinicians and technology experts spent thousands of hours “teaching” Watson how to process, analyze and interpret the meaning of complex clinical information using natural language processing, all with the goal of helping to improve health care quality and efficiency.

“IBM’s work with WellPoint and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center represents a landmark collaboration in how technology and evidence based medicine can transform the way in which health care is practiced,” said Manoj Saxena, IBM General Manager, Watson Solutions (see my interview with Manoj at last fall’s InterConnect event in Singapore further down in the post).

“These breakthrough capabilities bring forward the first in a series of Watson-based technologies, which exemplifies the value of applying big data and analytics and cognitive computing to tackle the industries most pressing challenges.”

Evidence Based Medicine: Addressing Oncology Issues By Quickly Assimilating Massive Amounts Of Medical Information

To date, Watson has ingested more than 600,000 pieces of medical evidence, two million pages of text from 42 medical journals and clinical trials in the area of oncology research.

Watson has the power to sift through 1.5 million patient records representing decades of cancer treatment history, such as medical records and patient outcomes, and provide to physicians evidence based treatment options all in a matter of seconds.

In less than a year, Memorial Sloan-Kettering has immersed Watson in the complexities of cancer and the explosion of genetic research which has set the stage for changing care practices for many cancer patients with highly specialized treatments based on their personal genetic tumor type.

Starting with 1,500 lung cancer cases, Memorial Sloan-Kettering clinicians and analysts are training Watson to extract and interpret physician notes, lab results and clinical research, while sharing its profound expertise and experiences in treating hundreds of thousands of patients with cancer.

“It can take years for the latest developments in oncology to reach all practice settings. The combination of transformational technologies found in Watson with our cancer analytics and decision-making process has the potential to revolutionize the accessibility of information for the treatment of cancer in communities across the country and around the world,” said Craig B.Thompson, M.D., President of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. “Ultimately, we expect this comprehensive, evidence-based approach will profoundly enhance cancer care by accelerating the dissemination of practice-changing research at an unprecedented pace.”

The Maine Center for Cancer Medicine and WESTMED Medical Group are the first two early adopters of the capability. Their oncologists will begin testing the product and providing feedback to WellPoint, IBM and Memorial Sloan-Kettering to improve usability.

Speeding Patient Care Through WellPoint’s Utilization Management Pilot

Throughout WellPoint’s utilization management pilot, Watson absorbed more than 25,000 test case scenarios and 1,500 real-life cases, and gained the ability to interpret the meaning and analyze queries in the context of complex medical data and human and natural language, including doctors notes, patient records, medical annotations and clinical feedback.

In addition, more than 14,700 hours of hands-on training was spent by nurses who meticulously trained Watson. Watson continues to learn while on the job, much like a medical resident, while working with the WellPoint nurses who originally conducted its training.

Watson started processing common, medical procedure requests by providers for members in WellPoint affiliated health plans in December, and was expanded to include five provider offices in the Midwest. Watson will serve as a powerful tool to accelerate the review process between a patient’s physician and their health plan.

“The health care industry must drive transformation through innovation, including harnessing the latest technology that will ultimately benefit the health care consumer,” said Lori Beer, WellPoint’s executive vice president of Specialty Businesses and Information Technology. “We believe that WellPoint’s data, knowledge and extensive provider network, combined with the IBM Watson technology and Memorial Sloan-Kettering’s oncological expertise can drive this transformation.”

Watson-Powered Health Innovations

As a result, IBM, Memorial Sloan-Kettering and WellPoint are introducing the first commercially based products based on Watson. These innovations represent a breakthrough in how medical professionals can apply advances in analytics and natural language processing to “big data,” combined with the clinical knowledge base, including genomic data, in order to create evidence based decision support systems.

These Watson-based systems are designed to assist doctors, researchers, medical centers, and insurance carriers, and ultimately enhance the quality and speed of care.  The new products include the Interactive Care Insights for Oncology, powered by Watson, in collaboration with IBM, Memorial Sloan-Kettering and WellPoint.

The WellPoint Interactive Care Guide and Interactive Care Reviewer, powered by Watson, designed for utilization management in collaboration with WellPoint and IBM.

New Interactive Care Insights for Oncology  

  • The cognitive systems use insights gleaned from the deep experience of Memorial Sloan-Kettering clinicians to provide individualized treatment options based on patient’s medical information and the synthesis of a vast array of updated and vetted treatment guidelines, and published research.
  • A first of-its-kind Watson-based advisor, available through the cloud, that is expected to assist medical professionals and researchers by helping to identify individualized treatment options for patients with cancer, starting with lung cancer.
  • Provides users with a detailed record of the data and information used to reach the treatment options. Oncologists located anywhere can remotely access detailed treatment options based on updated research that will help them decide how best to care for an individual patient.

New WellPoint Interactive Care Guide and Interactive Care Reviewer 

  • Delivers the first Watson-based cognitive computing system anticipated to streamline the review processes between a patient’s physician and their health plan, potentially speeding approvals from utilization management professionals, reducing waste and helping ensure evidence-based care is provided.
  • Expected to accelerate accepted testing and treatment by shortening pre-authorization approval time, which means that patients are moving forward with the first crucial step toward treatment more quickly.
  • Analyzes treatment requests and matches them to WellPoint’s medical policies and clinical guidelines to present consistent, evidence-based responses for clinical staff to review, in the anticipation of providing faster, better informed decisions about a patient’s care.
  • WellPoint has deployed Interactive Care Reviewer to a select number of providers in the Midwest, and believes more than 1,600 providers will be using the product by the end of the year.

Watson: Then and Now

The IBM Watson system gained fame by beating human contestants on the television quiz show Jeopardy! almost two years ago. Since that time, Watson has evolved from a first-of-a-kind status,  to a commercial cognitive computing system gaining a 240 percent improvement in system performance,  and a reduction in the system’s physical requirements by 75 percent and can now be run on a single Power 750 server.

The transformational technology, named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, was developed in IBM’s Research Labs. Using advances in natural language processing and analytics, the Watson technology can process information similar to the way people think, representing a significant shift in the ability for organizations to quickly analyze, understand and respond to vast amounts of Big Data.

The ability to use Watson to answer complex questions posed in natural language with speed, accuracy and confidence has enormous potential to improve decision making across a variety of industries from health care, to retail, telecommunications and financial services.

For more information on IBM Watson, please visit www.ibmwatson.com.

You can also follow Watson on Facebook here, and via Twitter at hashtag #IBMWatson.

And below, you can see the aforementioned video where I interviewed IBM Watson general manager Manoj Saxena about Watson’s future at last year’s IBM InterConnect event.

Watson Heads Back To School

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Well, the introduction of the BlackBerry 10 OS has come and gone, Research In Motion renamed itself as “BlackBerry,” the new company announced two new products, and the market mostly yawned.

Then again, many in the market seemed to find something to love about either the new interface and/or the new devices. David Pogue, the New York Time’s technology columnist (who typically leans towards being a Machead), wrote a surprisingly favorable review . Then again today, he opined again in a post entitled “More Things To Love About The BlackBerry 10.”

With that kind of ink, don’t vote the tribe from Ottawa off of the island just yet!

As I pondered the fate of the BlackBerry milieu, it struck me I hadn’t spilled any ink lately myself about IBM’s Watson, who’s been studying up on several industries since beating the best humans in the world two years ago at “Jeopardy!”

Turns out, Watson’s also been looking to apply to college, most notably, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Yesterday, IBM announced it would be providing a modified version of an IBM Watson system to RPI, making it the first university to receive such a system.

The arrival of Watson will enable RPI students and faculty an opportunity to find new users for Watson and deepen the systems’ cognitive computing capabilities. The firsthand experience of working on the system will also better position RPI students as future leaders in the Big Data, analytics, and cognitive computing realms.

Watson has a unique ability to understand the subtle nuances of human language, sift through vast amounts of data, and provide evidence-based answers to its human users’ questions.

Currently, Watson’s fact-finding prowess is being applied to crucial fields, such as healthcare, where IBM is collaborating with medical providers, hospitals and physicians to help doctors analyze a patient’s history, symptoms and the latest news and medical literature to help physicians make faster, more accurate diagnoses. IBM is also working with financial institutions to help improve and simplify the banking experience.

Rensselaer faculty and students will seek to further sharpen Watson’s reasoning and cognitive abilities, while broadening the volume, types, and sources of data Watson can draw upon to answer questions. Additionally, Rensselaer researchers will look for ways to harness the power of Watson for driving new innovations in finance, information technology, business analytics, and other areas.

With 15 terabytes of hard disk storage, the Watson system at Rensselaer will store roughly the same amount of information as its Jeopardy! predecessor and will allow 20 users to access the system at once — creating an innovation hub for the institutes’ New York campus. Along with faculty researchers and graduate students, undergraduate students at Rensselaer will have opportunities to work directly with the Watson system.This experience will help prepare Rensselaer students for future high-impact, high-value careers in analytics, cognitive computing, and related fields.

Underscoring the value of the partnership between IBM and Rensselaer, Gartner, Inc. estimates that 1.9 million Big Data jobs will be created in the U.S. by 2015.

This workforce — which is in high demand today — will require professionals who understand how to develop and harness data-crunching technologies such as Watson, and put them to use for solving the most pressing of business and societal needs.

As part of a Shared University Research (SUR) Award granted by IBM Research, IBM will provide Rensselaer with Watson hardware, software and training.The ability to use Watson to answer complex questions posed in natural language with speed, accuracy and confidence has enormous potential to help improve decision making across a variety of industries from health care, to retail, telecommunications and financial services.

IBM and Rensselaer: A History of Collaboration 

Originally developed at the company’s Yorktown Heights, N.Y. research facility, IBM’s Watson has deep connections to the Rensselaer community. Several key members of IBM’s Watson project team are graduates of Rensselaer, the oldest technological university in the United States.

Leading up to Watson’s victory on Jeopardy!, Rensselaer was one of eight universities that worked with IBM in 2011 on the development of open architecture that enabled researchers to collaborate on the underlying QA capabilities that help to power Watson.

Watson is the latest collaboration between IBM and Rensselaer, which have worked together for decades to advance the frontiers of high-performance computing, nanoelectronics, advanced materials, artificial intelligence, and other areas. IBM is a key partner of the Rensselaer supercomputing center, the Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations, where the Watson hardware will be located.

Flanked by the avatar of IBM’s Watson computer, IBM Research Scientist Dr. Chris Welty (left) and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute student Naveen Sundar discuss potential new ways the famous computer could be used, Wednesday, January 30, 2013 in Troy, NY. IBM donated a version of its Watson system to Rensselaer, making it the first university in the world to receive such a system. Rensselaer students and faculty will explore new uses for Watson and ways to deepen its cognitive computing capabilities. (Philip Kamrass/Feature Photo Service for IBM)

Building A Smarter Home

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One of the memes that seems to be jutting out from the first hours of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas centers around this notion of the “Smarter Home,” and IBM has jumped in head first.

Earlier today, IBM, STMicroelectronics, and Shaspa announced a collaboration to tap cloud and mobile computing for manufacturers and service providers to provide innovative ways for consumers to manage and interact with their homes’ functions and entertainment systems using multiple user interfaces such as voice recognition and physical gestures for a smarter home.

Yes, it looks as though we’ll finally be able to do something more productive with our appliances and air conditioning systems than simply yell at them!

A “smart home” brings networking functions together, creating a gateway that connects a television, computer or mobile device with smart meters, lights, appliances, plugs and sensors within the home as well as services from outside. Parks Associates forecasts that more than 8 billion devices will be connected on the home network by year-end 2015.

In Las Vegas this week during CES, the three companies mentioned will demonstrate a TV linked to ST’s Home Gateway, running software from business partner Shaspa, and connected to the IBM cloud.

Through sensors, the system can monitor home parameters such as temperature, carbon dioxide level through a wireless or batteryless IPv6 network, or human motion within the home. The data can be communicated to a smartphone or tablet via a wireless router. I

n this way, the homeowner can offload much of the home management to the cloud and interact with the system using event and time-based preset scenarios.

The companies anticipate that this initiative could allow consumers to use any device capable of running apps to manage a variety of personal activities such as viewing their home’s energy consumption; controlling security, heating and lighting systems; activating home appliances such as washing machines; monitoring health and assisted living conditions; or engaging in e-commerce.

Sony Bravia, Let The Pizza Guy In!

For example, a person with limited mobility could gesture to the TV to unlock the front door, turn up the heat or check vital signs. This project represents the future of electronics technology as sensing devices and equipment seamlessly respond to user needs and requests, emulating the way humans sense their environment.

In this project, ST’s Home Gateway and Shaspa’s embedded software acts as a bridge between the home and cloud services provided by the IBM SmartCloud Service Delivery Platform, which gives electronics manufacturers a cloud platform to manage smart devices and rapidly introduce new consumer services.

The gateway, based on a STiH416, provides the physical connectivity, provisioning and management middleware, application protocols, and interfaces for connecting and controlling the “Internet of Things.” The connected-home System-on-Chip runs software including Linux and a service management system compliant with the OSGi industry standard.

The infrastructure for the gateway-cloud service operation is provided by Shaspa’s GUI and application software.

Going Mobile In Your Living Room

IBM Worklight, in combination with the Mobile Interface of the Shaspa embedded software, is the mobile application platform that enables end users to control and manage their homes from their personal devices. The mobile platform is used to build the application, connect the app to all the sensors within the home, and manage all events that take place.

IBM software such as MQ Series and Worklight helps transmit the data to mobile devices. Data captured in the cloud supports the discovery of new insights through advanced analytics.

“Smarter buildings are an essential part of the journey towards a sustainable world, and this building-to-cloud system shows that connected living is becoming possible today,” said Oliver Goh, Founder & CEO of Shaspa. “This secure, scalable offering with be the enabler for ecosystems, enabling the fast creation and deployment of value-add services.”

The idea of an intelligent home that uses technology to enhance the lives of its occupants is far from new; in fact, it was a major theme in the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. We are now in a position to realize the intelligent-home dream with systems that feature scalability, interoperability and security built-in from the start. This requires collaborations among leading players across the ecosystem.

The demo will be shown at two venues near the Las Vegas Convention Center: A private, invitation-only suite at The Encore Hotel (ST) and The Venetian, exhibit meeting room 2405 (IBM).

About IBM Cloud and Mobile Computing
Mobility is fundamentally transforming the way people live, work, play and make decisions. As the first new technology platform for business to emerge since the advent of the World Wide Web, mobile computing represents one of the greatest opportunities facing organizations.

With an array of solutions that connect, secure, manage and develop the networks, infrastructure and applications that run the growing number of devices. IBM is enabling governments and industries to reinvent their business and reach customers, employees, partners and other constituents in completely new ways.

You can learn more about IBM’s Mobile Enterprise solutions here.

IBM has also helped thousands of clients adopt cloud models and manages millions of cloud based transactions every day. IBM assists clients in areas as diverse as banking, communications, healthcare and government to build their own clouds or securely tap into IBM cloud-based business and infrastructure services.

IBM is unique in bringing together key cloud technologies, deep process knowledge, a broad portfolio of cloud solutions, and a network of global delivery centers. For more information about IBM cloud solutions, visit www.ibm.com/smartcloud. Follow on Twitter @cloudchat and on our blog at www.thoughtsoncloud.com.

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