Speaker: Dr. Jeffrey J. Welser, Vice President & Lab Director, IBM Research – Almaden
The purpose of technology has always been to help humans expand and scale their mental and physical capabilities. Up until recently, the primary purpose of computing technology focused on automating routine tasks and exponentially speeding up our capability to do precise computations on structured data. The increasing availability of unstructured, non-numerical data (social media, IoT, natural language documents, images, audio, video, etc.) however is creating huge new opportunities for building business value, but the challenges in dealing with the volume (and velocity, variety and veracity) of it is straining our current systems and architectures. A new era of “cognitive” systems is needed, which have the ability to parse through data and find patterns and connections more like the way our brains process this information — but at a massive scale. As the birthplace of Watson, IBM Research has been extending the boundaries of cognitive computing for over a decade. Since the launch of the original system, cognitive technologies have now been developed to assist professionals from oncologists diagnosing and treating cancer to marketers wanted to understand the underlying personality traits of their customers. We are working to create a foundational cognitive platform, broad and flexible enough to help companies transform their industries, and support applications from an ecosystem of developers. And beyond just advancing cognitive software technologies, we are also looking at new hardware architectures to expand cognitive capability out of the Cloud and into mobile devices and IoT sensors. In the emerging Cognitive Business era, all of these technologies will need to be combined with deep domain knowledge from data scientists, to insure the solutions are aimed at the right problems in each industry to achieve the highest impact.