Turbotodd

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

Archive for the ‘ibm research’ Category

Live @ IBM InterConnect 2012: A Q&A With Manoj Saxena About IBM’s Watson Being Put To Work

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IBM General Manager of Watson Solutions Manoj Saxena is responsible for the commercialization efforts of IBM’s Watson technology globally.

This morning on the IBM InterConnect stage, IBM general manager for the IBM Watson Solutions organization, Manoj Saxena, explained to the gathered audience in Singapore how IBM has taken Watson out of its “Jeopardy!” TV show playground and put Watson to work!

I last discussed Watson with Manoj this past April at the IBM Impact event, when Watson had just matriculated into the workforce, getting jobs in both the healthcare and financial services industries.

During our interview yesterday here at IBM InterConnect, Manoj and I conducted a mid-year performance review for Watson, and the evaluation was overwhelmingly positive — Watson will continue to stay gainfully employed, but as with any cutting edge technology, there are always areas for improvement.

We discussed all of this, and how Manoj’s team has made Watson smaller and smarter, during our interview here in Singapore. Manoj also explained how Watson has really become a demonstrable example of “one of the most dramatic shifts we’re going to see in our life times,” the shift from transactional to cognitive computing.

You can view the interview here.

Research In Nairobi

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Over the past several years, you’ve probably noticed that IBM has become much more active on the African continent.

IBM’s newest research lab will be the first on the African continent, in Nairobi, where scientists will conduct basic and applied research to tackle some of East Africa’s toughest challenges, including smarter water systems and transportation congestion.

IBM’s continued investment in this emerging and important continent were expanded upon yesterday when IBM announced that Africa would be the next frontier for innovation in IBM Research.

IBM Research – Africa will have its first location, in Nairobi, Kenya, in collaboration between the Ministry of Information, Communication, and Technology (ICT) through the Kenya ICT board.

This new venture will conduct basic and applied research focused on solving problems relevant to African and contribute to the building of a science and technology base for the continent.

Key areas of research will include the following:

  • Next Generation Public Sector: Governments have a mission critical role to play in the growth and sustainable developments in Africa. With the right kind of ICT, including big data solutions, advanced analytics, and cloud technologies, government organizations can draw insights and benefit from the vast amounts of data held by any number of government agencies. This can help advance e-government capabilities such as helping to reduce the cost of social services, improving efficiency and productivity, deterring fraud and abuse, improving citizen access to services, and enabling digital interaction between citizens and the public sector.
  • Smarter Cities – with initial focus on water and transportation: Rates of urbanization in Africa are the highest in the world. The single biggest challenge facing African cities is improving access to and quality of city services such as water and transportation. IBM, in collaboration with government, industry and academia, plans to develop Intelligent Operation Centers for African cities – integrated command centers – that can encompass social and mobile computing, geo-spatial and visual analytics, and information models to enable smarter ways of managing city services. The initial focus will be on smarter water systems and traffic management solutions for the region.
  • Human Capacity Development: A skills shortage is hindering the leadership and innovation of new industry in Africa. The IBM Research – Africa lab, while carrying out research, will help to elevate the level of ICT and related scientific skills in Kenya by working in collaboration with select universities, government agencies and companies. Boosting the innovation culture in Kenya and engaging local entrepreneurs and innovators in developing solutions that matter to the people of Kenya and the region may also assist in accelerating economic development.

“In today’s world, innovation is the main lever for a competitive national economy, is a source of employment, and has the potential to improve lives,” said Dr. Bitange Ndemo, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology. “The IBM research lab, will not only rubber stamp Kenya as Africa’s leader in ICT, but will help the country to transform into a knowledge based economy.”

Operations at IBM Research – Africa will commence immediately. Expansion into other parts of Africa may be considered in a second phase.

IBM Investment in Africa 

IBM is making a significant investment in Africa, ramping up its profile on the continent as part of its focus on emerging markets. The expansion program is part of a major business plan to increase IBM’s presence in growth markets and support global strategy. The company is present in more than 20 African countries and recognizes the huge potential of research and smarter systems in transforming business, government and society across the continent.

Alongside its day-to-day business of providing advanced technologies and services to clients in Africa, IBM has deployed an array of programs aimed at building economic capacity such as IBM’s employee volunteer program, Corporate Service Corps, which is modelled on the U.S. Peace Corps. For example, IBM is working with the Postal Corporation of Kenya (PCK) to review the country’s changing economic landscape and develop a plan to deliver financial services to rural areas.

IBM Research – Africa will join existing labs in Australia, Brazil, China, India, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Switzerland and the United States.

IBM Research laboratories are credited with the creation of many of the foundations of information technology, including the invention of the relational database, disk storage, DRAM memory and much more. IBM Research has been recognized with five Nobel Prize Laureates, and many leading scientific and technical medals and awards.

Recently IBM Research created a question-answering supercomputing system called Watson that defeated the champions of a major televised quiz show, showing its ability to match humans in answering a wide range of free text questions.

Now That’s Some Serious Spin!

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Steve Lohr with The New York Times has gone long on “big data.”

In his piece, Lohr explains how big data has gone mainstream, and using IBM’s Watson computer that beat “Jeopardy!” world champions last year as a key inflection point in its evolution, and also quoting IBM exec and technical fellow Rod Smith.

Some excerpts:

Rod Smith: “Big Data is really about new uses and new insights, not so much about the data itself.”

And on Watson: “The Watson computer from I.B.M. that beat human “Jeopardy” champions last year was a triumph of Big Data computing. In theory, Big Data could improve decision-making in fields from business to medicine, allowing decisions to be based increasingly on data and analysis rather than intuition and experience.”

I mentioned in some prior posts the upcoming Smarter Commerce Global Summit IBM will be hosting at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort (which you can learn more about and register for here).

Just out of curiosity, I went and did a query to see if any sessions would include “big data” as a featured topic, and as it turns out, there were four, including “Crunch Big Data for Digital Analytics Using Netinsight on Premises and Netezza,” and “Big Data, Big Campaigns: Using Unica Campaign Management & IBM Netezza Data Warehousing Appliances.”

So, it’s pretty clear that the era of “big data” is certainly upon us with respect to marketing as well.

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I also wanted to highlight some news just emerging from our friends in IBM Research.

Yesterday, they announced a new breakthrough that has potential impact for semiconductor transistor manufacturing.

With the announcement, they revealed the first-ever direct mapping of the formation of a persistent spin helix in a semiconductor, an effort jointly conducted between IBM Researchers and scientists with ETH Zurich.

Until now, it was unclear whether or not electronic spins posessed the capability to preserve the encoded information long enough before rotating.

But through this new experiment, they demonstrated that synchronizing electrons extends the spin lifetime of the electron by 30 times to 1.1 nanoseconds — the same time it takes for an existing 1 GHz process to cycle.

Why do we care?

Well, today’s computing technology encodes and processes data by the electrical charge of electrons. But that technique is limiting, as the semiconductor dimensions continue to shrink to the point where the flow of electrons can no longer be controlled. Spintronics could surmount this approaching impasse by harnessing the spin of electrons instead of their charge.

This new understanding in “spintronics” not only gives scientists unprecedented control over the magnetic movements inside devices, but also opens up new possibilities for creating more energy efficient electronics.

However, this effort could get colder before it warms up and leads to massive technology transfer into the marketplace: Spintronics research takes place at very low temperatures at which electron spins interact minimally with the environment.

In the case of this particular research, IBM scientists worked at 40 Kelvin (-233 Celsius, -387 Fahrenheit)!!!

You can read the full scientific paper entitled “Direct mapping of the formation of a persistent spin helix” by M.P. Walser, C. Reichl, W. Wegscheider and G. Salis was published online in Nature Physics, DOI 10.1038/NPHYS2383 (12 August 2012).

IBM And Mobily: Spoken Like A True, Modern Mobile Network

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IBM’s mobile computing juggernaut continues with a new deal just announced in Saudia Arabia.

Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) and IBM announced today a 5-year agreement worth approximately $280 million to provide comprehensive IT solutions for the Saudi Arabian company.

Saudi Arabia: 870,000 Square Miles

Riyadh is the capital and largest city of Saudi Arabia. It is also the capital of Riyadh Province, and belongs to the historical regions of Najd and Al-Yamama (Source: Wikipedia) IBM and Mobily, the Saudi Arabian telecommunications firm, will collaborate on future innovation with the help of IBM Research, using IBM’s Spoken Web solution. The basic principle of Spoken Web uses speech to create voice sites using the mobile phone network to establish a spoken version of the internet. The opportunity to collaborate with leading IBM researchers has become a key differentiator for IBM.

Saudi Arabia is a big place, encompassing some 870,000 square miles with a population approaching 30 million people.  Mobily, as the fastest growing telecommunications company in Saudia Arabia, has experienced an explosion in demand from the growing number of subscribers using mobile devices, and so in turn needed to boost its IT capacity and innovation in the market.

This new agreement with IBM will provide Mobily with faster, targeted access to new technologies and expertise so it can build a strong infrastructure to keep up with the company’s business growth.

As Mobily gears up for further expansion, it wanted to improve the quality and speed of its operations using IBM best practices.

As part of the agreement, Mobily and IBM will collaborate on future innovation with the help of IBM Research, for example, using IBM’s Spoken Web solution.

The basic principle of Spoken Web uses speech to create voice sites using the mobile phone network to establish a spoken version of the internet. The opportunity to collaborate with leading IBM researchers has become a key differentiator for IBM.

IBM’s Growth Market Strategy

The agreement highlights IBM’s continued geographic expansion initiative to strategically increase its presence in key growth markets like Saudi Arabia in support of its global growth strategy.

IBM is ramping up its investment across the Middle East and Africa, harnessing the company’s Smarter Planet initiative to help both public and private sector clients do more with fewer resources.

The strategic management of IT remains with Mobily, ensuring continuation of its standards of excellence and cutting-edge architecture, and enabling Mobily to meet the explosion in demand it is seeing from the growing number of subscribers using mobile devices.

“Partnering with one of the largest technology companies in the world offers Mobily a broad portfolio of modern IT solutions that will have a positive impact on our customers in terms of the quality of products and innovative services, in addition to solutions that will enrich their lives. We are pleased to sign with IBM, which has a significant presence in this strategic sector,” said Khalid Al Kaf, CEO, Mobily.

“The agreement is part of our efforts and vision of transforming Mobily into an integrated telecommunications operator. It also supports the Saudi government’s initiative of creating a knowledge-based community, adopting state of the art services and solutions” Al Kaf added.

IBM And Saudi Arabia: Remaking The Kingdom’s Future

IBM is involved in a range of key initiatives in Saudi Arabia, including a joint project with King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology using innovative membrane technology and solar power to address the shortage of drinking water.

In another project, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and IBM are collaborating using the most complex, high performance computing system in the region.

The agreement with Mobily was signed in August 2012.

The Global Market For Intellectual Property

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IBM’s own Manny Schecter, chief patent counsel, chimes in via a guest blog post on Forbes on the emerging global marketplace for intellectual property.

IBM Chief Patent Counsel Manny Schecter writes in a recent guest blog post on Forbes that "Intellectual property has become one of the most important resources in the 21st century." Like financial capital or commodities or labor, he explains, IP is more than an economic asset – it also forms the basis of a global market.

Schecter explains that intellectual property has “become one of the most important resources in the 21st century,” but that more national governments need to step up the pace in providing balance in their patents systems because patents “can be used to both promote and inhibit innovation.”

Schecter also explains that more corporate leaders need to recognize intellectual property as an “asset like any other assets” and to better integrate their IP and business strategies.

Moreover, Schecter calls for more transparency in the intellectual property realm, asking to “make all pertinent information about patents, patent applications and the patent process available to everyone.”

You can read more in Manny’s post here.

Written by turbotodd

April 18, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Big States (And Countries) Need Big Computers

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IBM’s been on a roll with the supercomputer situation of late.

Last week, we announced the installation of a Blue Gene supercomputer at Rutgers, and earlier today, we discovered that the IBM Blue Gene supercomputer is coming to my great home state of Texas.

Specifically, IBM announced a partnership with Houston’s Rice University to build the first award-winning IBM Blue Gene supercomputer in Texas.

Rice also announced a related collaboration agreement with the University of Sao Paul (USP) in Brazil to initiate the shared administration and use of the Blue Gene supercomputer, which allows both institutions to share the benefits of the new computing resource.

Rice University and IBM today announced a partnership to build the first award-winning IBM Blue Gene supercomputer in Texas. Rice also announced a related collaboration agreement with the University of Sao Paulo (USP) in Brazil to initiate the shared administration and use of the Blue Gene supercomputer, which allows both institutions to share the benefits of the new computing resource.

Now, you all play nice as you go about all that protein folding analysis!

Rice faculty indicated they would be using the Blue Gene to further their own research and to collaborate with academic and industry partners on a broad range of science and engineering questions related to energy, geophysics, basic life sciences, cancer research, personalized medicine and more.

“Collaboration and partnership have a unique place in Rice’s history as a pre-eminent research university, and it is fitting that Rice begins its second century with two innovative partnerships that highlight the university’s commitments to expanding our international reach, strengthening our research and building stronger ties with our home city,” said Rice President David Leebron about the deal.

USP is Brazil’s largest institution of higher education and research, and Rodas said the agreement represents an important bond between Rice and USP. “The joint utilization of the supercomputer by Rice University and USP, much more than a simple sharing of high-tech equipment, means the strength of an effective partnership between both universities,” explained USP President Joao Grandino Rodas.

Unlike the typical desktop or laptop computer, which have a single microprocessor, supercomputers typically contain thousands of processors. This makes them ideal for scientists who study complex problems, because jobs can be divided among all the processors and run in a matter of seconds rather than weeks or months.

Supercomputers are used to simulate things that cannot be reproduced in a laboratory — like Earth’s climate or the collision of galaxies — and to examine vast databases like those used to map underground oil reservoirs or to develop personalized medical treatments.

USP officials said they expect their faculty to use the supercomputer for research ranging from astronomy and weather prediction to particle physics and biotechnology.

In 2009, President Obama recognized IBM and its Blue Gene family of supercomputers with the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the most prestigious award in the United States given to leading innovators for technological achievement.

Including the Blue Gene/P, Rice has partnered with IBM to launch three new supercomputers during the past two years that have more than quadrupled Rice’s high-performance computing capabilities.

The addition of the Blue Gene/P doubles the number of supercomputing CPU hours that Rice can offer. The six-rack system contains nearly 25,000 processor cores that are capable of conducting about 84 trillion mathematical computations each second. When fully operational, the system is expected to rank among the world’s 300 fastest supercomputers as measured by the TOP500 supercomputer rankings.

Written by turbotodd

March 30, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Warning Against Your Insecurities: The 2011 IBM X-Force Trend And Risk “Poltergeist”

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WARNING: This is an exceptionally long post intended for security and privacy geeks everywhere, including sys admins, Internet security hawks, CIOs, and innocent but interested bystanders everywhere.  No web servers were hacked in the preparation of this report: at least, none by me!

Okay, troopers, it’s that time of year again.  You know, the time when IBM releases its report card for security incidents, the X-Force Trend and Risk Report.

Google has the search “Zeitgeist” every year, we have the security “poltergeist!”

This time around, we’re looking back at the wild and wacky 2011, a year which showed surprising improvements in several areas of Internet security. Improvements, you ask?  Surely you jest, Turbo.

This figure from the 2011 IBM X-Force Trend And Risk Report shows a steady decline in the instances of input control related vulnerabilities such as cross-site scripting (XSS) and SQL injection since X-Force began recording these statistics in 2007. In 2011, the statistics suggest that the likelihood of encountering XSS in a given test continues to decrease but shows signs of leveling out at approximately a 40 percent chance of occurring. Injection vulnerabilities and specifically SQL injection appears to have leveled out at around a 20 percent chance of occurring in a given test.

No, no, there IS some good news.  Like a reduction in application security vulnerabilities, exploit code and spam.

But, good news leads to less good news on this front, as many of you who follow security well know, because the bad guys are being forced to rethink their tactics by targeting more niche IT loopholes and emerging technologies such as social networks and mobile devices.

The Top Line: Less Spam, More Adaptation

To get specific, the X-Force 2011 Trend and Risk Report demonstrated a 50 percent decline in spam email compared to 2010.

2011’s poltergeist saw a diligent patching of security vulnerabilities by software vendors, with only 36 percent of those vulnerabilities remaining unpatched in 2011 (compared to 43 percent in 2010).  The year also saw a higher quality of software application code, as seen in web-app vulnerabilities called “cross-site scripting” that were half as likely to exist in clients’ software as they were four years ago.

So, the net is, the bad guys are adapting their techniques to the changing tech environment. The report uncovered a rise in emerging attack trends including mobile exploits, automated password guessing, and a surge in phishing attacks.

It also witnessed an increase in automated shell command injection attacks against web servers, which may well be a response to successful efforts to close off other kinds of Web app vulnerabilities.

The Security Landscape Glass Half Full: Decrease In Unpatched Vulnerabilities, Exploit Code, And Spam

Getting even more specific, according to the report, there are several positive trends as companies adjusted their security policies in 2011:

  • Thirty percent decline in the availability of exploit code. When security vulnerabilities are disclosed, exploit code is sometimes released that attackers can download and use to break into computers. Approximately 30 percent fewer exploits were released in 2011 than were seen on average over the past four years. This improvement can be attributed to architectural and procedural changes made by software developers that help make it more difficult for attackers to successfully exploit vulnerabilities.
  • Decrease in unpatched security vulnerabilities. When security vulnerabilities are publicly disclosed, it is important that the responsible software vendor provide a patch or fix in a timely fashion. Some security vulnerabilities are never patched, but the percentage of unpatched vulnerabilities has been decreasing steadily over the past few years. In 2011 this number was down to 36 percent from 43 percent in 2010.
  • Fifty percent reduction in cross site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities due to improvements in software quality. The IBM X-Force team is seeing significant improvement in the quality of software produced by organizations that use tools like IBM AppScan OnDemand service to analyze, find, and fix vulnerabilities in their code.  IBM found XSS vulnerabilities are half as likely to exist in customers’ software as they were four years ago. However, XSS vulnerabilities still appear in about 40 percent of the applications IBM scans. This is still high for something well understood and able to be addressed.
  • Decline in spam. IBM’s global spam email monitoring network has seen about half the volume of spam email in 2011 that was seen in 2010. Some of this decline can be attributed to the take-down of several large spam botnets, which likely hindered spammers’ ability to send emails. The IBM X-Force team witnessed spam evolve through several generations over the past seven years as spam filtering technology has improved and spammers have adapted their techniques in order to successfully reach readers.

The Security Landscape Glass Half Empty: Attackers Adapt Their Techniques in 2011

Even with these improvements, there has been a rise in new attack trends and an array of significant, widely reported external network and security breaches.

This figure from the 2011 IBM X-Force Trend And Risk Report shows an increase in mobile operating system exploits in 2011 due to an uptick in malicious activity targeting mobile devices. Because of the two-tiered relationship between phone end users, telecommunications companies, and mobile operating system vendors, disclosed mobile vulnerabilities can remain unpatched on phones for an extended period of time, providing a large window of opportunity to attackers.

As malicious attackers become increasingly savvy, the IBM X-Force documented increases in three key areas of attack activity:

  • Attacks targeting shell command injection vulnerabilities more than double. For years, SQL injection attacks against web applications have been a popular vector for attackers of all types. SQL injection vulnerabilities allow an attacker to manipulate the database behind a website. As progress has been made to close those vulnerabilities – the number of SQL injection vulnerabilities in publicly maintained web applications dropped by 46 percent in 2011– some attackers have now started to target shell command injection vulnerabilities instead. These vulnerabilities allow the attacker to execute commands directly on a web server. Shell command injection attacks rose by two to three times over the course of 2011. Web application developers should pay close attention to this increasingly popular attack vector.
  • Spike in automated password guessing – Poor passwords and password policies have played a role in a number of high-profile breaches during 2011. There is also a lot of automated attack activity on the Internet in which attacks scan the net for systems with weak login passwords. IBM observed a large spike in this sort of password guessing activity directed at secure shell servers (SSH) in the later half of 2011.
  • Increase in phishing attacks that impersonate social networking sites and mail parcel services – The volume of email attributed to phishing was relatively small over the course of 2010 and the first half of 2011, but phishing came back with a vengeance in the second half, reaching volumes that haven’t been seen since 2008. Many of these emails impersonate popular social networking sites and mail parcel services, and entice victims to click on links to web pages that may try to infect their PCs with malware. Some of this activity can also be attributed to advertising click fraud, where spammers use misleading emails to drive traffic to retail websites.

Emerging Technologies Create New Avenues for Attacks

New technologies such as mobile and cloud computing continue to create challenges for enterprise security.

  • Publicly released mobile exploits rise 19 percent in 2011. This year’s IBM X-Force report focused on a number of emerging trends and best practices to manage the growing trend of “Bring your Own Device,” or BYOD, in the enterprise. IBM X-Force reported a 19 percent increase over the prior year in the number of exploits publicly released that can be used to target mobile devices. There are many mobile devices in consumers’ hands that have unpatched vulnerabilities to publicly released exploits, creating an opportunity for attackers. IT managers should be prepared to address this growing risk.
  • Attacks increasingly relate to social media – With the widespread adoption of social media platforms and social technologies, this area has become a target of attacker activity. IBM X-Force observed a surge in phishing emails impersonating social media sites. More sophisticated attackers have also taken notice. The amount of information people are offering in social networks about their personal and professional lives has begun to play a role in pre-attack intelligence gathering for the infiltration of public and private sector computing networks.
  • Cloud computing presents new challenges – Cloud computing is moving rapidly from emerging to mainstream technology, and rapid growth is anticipated through the end of 2013. In 2011, there were many high profile cloud breaches affecting well-known organizations and large populations of their customers. IT security staff should carefully consider which workloads are sent to third-party cloud providers and what should be kept in-house due to the sensitivity of data. Cloud security requires foresight on the part of the customer as well as flexibility and skills on the part of the cloud provider. The IBM X-Force report notes that the most effective means for managing security in the cloud may be through Service Level Agreements (SLAs) because of the limited impact that an organization can realistically exercise over the cloud computing service. Therefore, careful consideration should be given to ownership, access management, governance and termination when crafting SLAs. The IBM X-Force report encourages cloud customers to take a lifecycle view of the cloud deployment and fully consider the impact to their overall information security posture.

The IBM X-Force 2011 Trend and Risk Report is based on intelligence gathered by one of the industry’s leading security research teams through its research of public vulnerability disclosures findings from more than 4,000 clients, and the monitoring and analysis of an average of 13 billion events daily in 2011.

“In 2011, we’ve seen surprisingly good progress in the fight against attacks through the IT industry’s efforts to improve the quality of software,” said Tom Cross, manager of Threat Intelligence and Strategy for IBM X-Force. “In response, attackers continue to evolve their techniques to find new avenues into an organization. As long as attackers profit from cyber crime, organizations should remain diligent in prioritizing and addressing their vulnerabilities.”

You can learn more about IBM Security Solutions here.

IBM Research Makes Advances In Quantum Computing

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Scientists at IBM Research have achieved major advances in quantum computing device performance that may accelerate the realization of a practical, full-scale quantum computer.

For specific applications, quantum computing, which exploits the underlying quantum mechanical behavior of matter, has the potential to deliver computational power that is unrivaled by any supercomputer today.

Follow the IBM Research blog for coverage to learn more about breakthroughs from IBM scientists.

Quantum computing has been a Holy Grail for researchers ever since Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman, in 1981, challenged the scientific community to build computers based on quantum mechanics. For decades, the pursuit remained firmly in the theoretical realm. But now IBM scientists believe they’re on the cusp of building systems that will take computing to a whole new level.

Using a variety of techniques in the IBM labs, scientists have established three new records for reducing errors in elementary computations and retaining the integrity of quantum mechanical properties in quantum bits (qubits) – the basic units that carry information within quantum computing.

IBM has chosen to employ superconducting qubits, which use established microfabrication techniques developed for silicon technology, providing the potential to one day scale up to and manufacture thousands or millions of qubits.

IBM researchers will be presenting their latest results today at the annual American Physical Society meeting taking place February 27-March 2, 2012 in Boston, Mass.

The Possibilities of Quantum Computing

The special properties of qubits will allow quantum computers to work on millions of computations at once, while desktop PCs can typically handle minimal simultaneous computations.

For example, a single 250-qubit state contains more bits of information than there are atoms in the universe.

These properties will have wide-spread implications foremost for the field of data encryption where quantum computers could factor very large numbers like those used to decode and encode sensitive information.

Other potential applications for quantum computing may include searching databases of unstructured information, performing a range of optimization tasks and solving previously unsolvable mathematical problems.

Written by turbotodd

February 28, 2012 at 12:43 pm

IBM: Helping To Shape The Future Of Medicine

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So I’m curious, anybody out there been to see a doctor recently?

Do you sometimes wonder if you stepped back in time? Filling out the same paperwork over and over and over…and over again?

My own general practitioner just basically kicked me out of his practice — he’s asking for an upfront fee once a year for a special service he’s offering to try and offer “better service” to his clients.

And come to think, all I wanted was a check up once in a while and somewhere to go when the nasty flu hits.

Well, fifty years after IBM and Akron Children’s Hospital launched an ambitious project to build the first computer-based patient records system, why am I not surprised to find that only one percent of hospitals are using electronic records to their full potential — this according to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.

Sure, there are a host of issues to address in dealing with such records, not the least of which are security, privacy, and access. But while we’re debating these pros and cons, an increase of chronic diseases and aging populations around the globe has increased the pressure on healthcare providers to operate more efficiently while providing better care.

Hence, my GP kicking me out of his office unless I’m prepared to pay a $1,600/year membership for his practice (a fee NOT covered by any insurance).

Check out this blog post to read how the CIO of Akron Children’s Hospital explains how overcoming the challenges that confronted healthcare providers a half-century ago remains an elusive goal even today.

How IBM Is Helping

IBM is helping hospitals, insurance companies and healthcare providers use digital information and electronic records to improve patient care through a variety of means. While transforming healthcare is a complex challenge, the hard work of creating a more effective, sustainable system that delivers better service and value to patients has begun.

As mentioned already, and per Tom Ogg’s blog post, global healthcare transformation depends on universal adoption of electronic health records, which are the basic building blocks of healthcare efficiency. IBM has a long history of creating and connecting systems to share patient information.

Health analytics are also going to play a central role in driving real change in the healthcare system by ushering in a new age of smarter decision-making. Healthcare organizations can use analytics to publish metrics on how hospitals are performing; create scorecards for enabling doctors to help chronic patients get better; and change behavior to help doctors and nurses make more intelligent and informed decisions.

IBM also brings deep expertise in applying, integrating and maintaining complex systems. That is coupled with our broad expertise in life sciences, bioinformatics and the full spectrum of healthcare disciplines. Emerging technologies like Watson could further IBM’s ability to help physicians and nurses identify the most effective treatment options for patients and enable new healthcare innovations.

You can learn more about some of these new capabilities in this short video in which IBM healthcare experts Bill Rollow and Lorraine Fernandez explain both the economic and patient benefits of creating a more “horizontal” electronic health information system.

Using Mobile Phones and Social Networks to Fight Non-Communicable Diseases

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Here’s some shocking statistics: According to the World Health Organization, nearly two-thirds of all deaths occur due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which contribute to more than 60 percent of deaths worldwide.

Over the coming decade, some 388 million worldwide will die of one or more chronic illnesses and the cumulative losses in global economic output due to NCDs will total $47 trillion by 2030.

But before you go jump off a tall building, some new solutions developed by university teams could soon be harnessed to help manage the glowing global problem of such NCDs like asthma, diabetes, stroke, and cancer.

As part of the NCD Challenge, sponsored by IBM and pharmaceutical maker Novartis, a global competition was held to bring together industry and academia to create innovative, easy-to-use solutions that help fight the human and social burden of NCDs.

Like a social-media enabled support system for pregnant women with gestational diabetes and an advanced smart-phone service, both of which could have tremendous impact in managing diabetes and other diseases.

Developing World Solution: 2Vidas

Winners of the competition were the Hass School of Business, University of California, Berkeley, and ESADE Business School-Universidad Ramon Llull in Barcelona, Spain.

The developing world solution, from Berkeley, involved “2Vidas,” a pharmacy-based membership program for low- to middle-income pregnant women to address the growing problem of diabetes in Mexico.

The project’s aim is to make a lasting health impact on two lives during a finite period in which women have increased motivation to take better case of themselves for the health of their babies.

The program works by providing pregnant women access to monitoring tools at local pharmacies, support through peer-led sessions, and encouragement via positive SMS messaging that rewards self-management and offers health tips.

The potential economic impact is the ability to save women 58-98% of out-of-pocket monitoring costs, depending on frequency of use, and the health system an average of $110 per enrolled women per year through improved diabetes control — lowering the risk profile of the mother’s pregnancy and the baby’s propensity for NCDs.

2Vidas membership program will deliver an estimated $10.4 million in systemic cost savings and $475,00 in added value creation over five years.

Developed World Solution: Dr. Diabetes

Developed by the ESACE Business School-Universidad Ramon Llull, the Barcelona-based team’s effort, “Dr. Diabetes,” utilizes a handheld device with an application and two cloud servers.

It is a total solution designed to provide diabetes awareness, monitoring, and management to patients with chronic illness, initially for China.

It also provides early awareness to the public and streamlines diabetes management for patients. The solution provides medical data via cloud computing to physicians for accurate diagnosis, and to pharmaceutical companies and hospitals for efficient research and development.

The solution is designed to be scalable to support other NCDs. It is designed to lower the risk of complications, decrease treatment costs to patients by up to 73%, and decrease their hospital visits by 65%.

Winning teams were recognized this week during the NCD Awards Ceremony at IBM headquarters in Armonk, NY, and Novartis headquarters in East Hanover, New Jersey.

People interested in learning more and in joining the conversation on the topic of fighting non-communicable diseases can do so in the People for a Smarter Planet on Facebook, and via Twitter at #NCD.

They can also join in the “Smarter Healthcare” group on LinkedIn.

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