World of Watson

Getting Ready for a World “With” Watson

frank-palermo-dec-post-world-of-watson1What a difference a year makes. A year ago, the IBM World of Watson event had about 1,000 people in Brooklyn, NY. This year’s event was quite a different story as they moved to Las Vegas and saw 17,000 attendees and another 3,000 watching the live stream from the new T-Mobile arena. Over 120 countries were represented at the event across all industries.

So what changed?

Watson Comes of Age

frank-palermo-dec-post-world-of-watson2John Kelly, the Godfather of Watson, reflected on that moment in August of 2007 when several IBM researchers came to him with an idea to build the world’s first artificial intelligent cognitive computing system. Recognizing that artificial intelligence has been around for longer than the computer and building such as system has been an elusive goal for several generations of scientists over past 50 years, he was clearly at a crossroads as what to do.

So with some trepidation, ten years ago, IBM engineers and researchers began a journey to create a system that brings man and machine together to create a better world. The highly publicized Jeopardy moment was really the coming out for Watson. It took almost five years to ready Watson for its Jeopardy unveiling in February 2011.It was trained on all of Wikipidea and thousands of articles and books. But that was very much the beginning of the next era of computing.

frank-palermo-dec-post-world-of-watson3In the five years since Jeopardy, Watson has now become pervasive in the world around us. It is helping in smarter diagnosis of cancer to provide better health outcomes, helping increase security, reimagining hospitality, unlocking culinary creativity, addressing global energy needs, helping you make smarter purchases, crafting cognitive fashion, making sense of the Internet of Things (IoT) or even transforming education.

What was once the realm of science fiction has now become reality in the world around us! AI is now prevalent in everything we do. It’s in our Smartphones, our cars, our homes.

Watson is now at work in 45 countries, across 20 industries. It speaks 9 languages and serves over 3 billion people. IBM has invested more than $15B in Watson. IBM is betting its 105 year old future on Watson.

This is a multi-decade journey that were are only a few years into.

What Happened in 2007?

Thomas Friedman asserts that we are in the middle of three non-linear shifts in the market, Mother Nature and Moore’s Law that are driving massive accelerations and fundamentally reshaping the world.

But when and how did this happen?

2007 was a magical year. The iPhone came out, Facebook went global, Twitter was launched, Hadoop was born, Github launched, Android released, Airbnb was launched, Google bought YouTube, Palintir came out and manyfrank-palermo-dec-post-world-of-watson4 more. The cost of DNA sequencing per Genome dropped significantly, Cloud computing was born, and the cost of bandwidth plummeted. In 2007, IBM launched Watson and the world will never be the same.

But then 2008 hit us. And all the exuberance and excitement of these pioneering times came crashing down as the global financial markets went into crisis. We missed the single largest technical inflection point in history.

We are now in an era where the advancement of technology has surpassed the human ability to adapt it. The rate of change is so rapid that we can no longer, as humans, leverage the technologies fast enough. We need ways to learn faster, govern smarter to get the most of these advancements. Enter the need to leverage technologies like artificial intelligence.

But the challenge is how to make “AI: Artificial Intelligence” into “IA: Intelligent Assistant”.

Don’t Fear Artificial Intelligence

Peter Diamandis founder and chairman of the X Prize Foundation, and the co-founder and executive chairman of Singularity University and the co-author of the New York Times best sellers Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think and BOLD: How to Go Big, Create Wealth, and Impact the World.

frank-palermo-dec-post-world-of-watson5We are living in a time that is greater than any other time in human history. Technology is a force that takes things that used to be scare and now makes it abundant. Over the next 10 years, we can take the planet out of extreme poverty. Democracy is on the rise, education amongst the world’s populous is increasing, the cost of energy is dropping and we are living in the most peaceful time in history. These trends may not evident in our day to day lives, which is why it is critical to look at data and assumptions.

There is no problem that cannot be solved. The tools that we have, driven by our passion and commitment can sleigh any problems. Fundamentally, artificial intelligence is the most important tool we will ever create. It is far from the demon it is the way we will solve our grand challenges. It has the potential to help create a world of haves in which everyone can have any future they want.

At the end of his session, Peter noted that he has launched an IBM Watson X Prize challenge for anyone to create a capability for an AI platform like Watson to work with humans to solve a world problem in hunger, literacy, health, etc. It will be a $5 million prize announced in 2018. So get to work!

Co-existing in a World with Watson

frank-palermo-dec-post-world-of-watson6The inevitable is coming. AI and platforms like Watson will undoubtedly become mainstream and our ability to co-exist in an AI world will be critical.

IBM President & CEO Ginni Rometty confidentially opened her keynote proclaiming that, “in five years, there is no doubt in my mind that cognitive computing will impact every decision. Bringing cognitive capabilities to digital business will change the way we work and help solve the world’s biggest problems.”

The market may just be catching up to this vision. The market growth for cognitive is now $32 billion and it has grown 16x in the last four years. However, being really cognitive is about making better business decisions and the market for making better decisions is much larger, expecting to be a $2 trillion market by 2025.

When it comes to artificial intelligence, your goals matters. IBM has made several important architectural decisions around Watson. First, and probably most important is that it’s about man and machine. It’s about augmenting decisions not replacing people. It’s about applying insights to make better decisions. The second is that the data belongs to the customer. Data is the lifeblood of most organizations. It’s a competitive weapon and it deserves to remain your intellectual property. Watson is where your data goes to learn but then it goes back home. Lastly, an ecosystem matters. Developers, entrepreneurs, iconic enterprises are all part of the ecosystem.

Defining our future world with AI will require us to balance our goals and principles as a society with the evolution and capability of the technology. To accomplish this It require will require close collaboration between key players in the AI race. As a positive step towards this, back in September 2016, Microsoft, Amazon, IBM, Google and Facebook announced the formation of the Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society.

Forget Digital, Cognitive Business is the Future

A cognitive business marries digital business with digital intelligence. Digital was about transforming the “wiring” of your organization but digital intelligence is about truly unleashing the power of insights to transform your business. It’s about transforming the way you do business by harnessing power of your data, automating decision making.

Everywhere you turn, Watson is now impacting and in many cases transforming businesses. 100’s of millions of people are now impacted by Watson. By the end of next year, it will hit 1 billion people. Watson is interacting with 200 million consumers in shopping, insurance, banking services, education and let’s not forget: the weather.

The question is, are you on the journey to become a cognitive business?

The article was originally published on CMSWire and is re-posted here by permission.

Frank Palermo

Executive Vice President - Global Digital Solutions, Virtusa. Frank Palermo brings more than 24 years of experience in technology leadership across a wide variety of technical products and platforms. Frank has a wealth of experience in leading global teams in large scale, transformational application and product development programs. In his current role at Virtusa, Frank heads the Global Technical Solutions Group which contains many of Virtusa’s specialized technical competency areas such as Business Process Management (BPM), Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence (DWBI). The group is responsible for creating an overall go-to-market strategy, developing technical competencies and standards, and delivering IP based Solutions for each of these practice areas. Frank also leads an emerging technology group that is responsible for incubating new solutions in areas such as mobile computing, social solutions and cloud computing. Frank is also responsible for overseeing all of the Partner Channels as well as Analyst Relations for the firm. Prior to joining Virtusa, Frank was Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for Decorwalla, an emerging B2B marketplace in the interior design industry, where he was responsible for the overall technology strategy, creative direction, and site development and deployment. Prior to that, Frank was CTO and VP of Engineering for INSCI Corporation, a supplier of digital document repositories and integrated output management products and services. Prior to INSCI, Frank worked at IBM in the Advanced Workstations Division, and took part in the PowerPC consortium with IBM, Motorola and Apple. He was also involved in the design of the PowerPC family of microprocessors as well as architecting and developing a massive distributed client/server design automation and simulation system involving thousands of high-end clustered servers. Frank received several patents for his work in the area of microprocessor design and distributed client/server computing. Frank holds a BSEE degree from Northeastern University and completed advanced studies at the University of Texas.

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