Augmenting versus artificial intelligence at World of Watson

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World of Watson 2016“Wow” is right.

More than 16,000 clients, partners, sponsors, and IBMers gathered in Las Vegas last month to witness the expanding World of Watson (WoW). Watson is five years old this year and, as highlighted in IBM CEO and Chairman Ginni Rometty’s keynote address, “A World with Watson,” it’s already making huge contributions to healthcare, automotive, music and education, as well as in the fields of Internet of Things (IoT) and big-data analytics. Watson is proving itself as the augmenting intelligence platform for business in the cognitive era.

I was privileged to attend the World of Watson conference, and while there, I attended sessions relating to IoT and spent time on discussions of augmenting intelligence versus artificial intelligence. The distinction is an important one. IBM strategy is centered around the notion that clients own their data and always will. Clients decide how, when and where data are housed, secured, viewed, accessed, used and augmented to serve their needs, their own clients’ needs and their innovative approaches to the marketplace.

Like a riptide at a metaphorical cognitive beach, the fear of artificial intelligence seemed to be on the minds of many at the conference. It’s a good idea to understand this dynamic in detail, especially given the broader implications.  What I discovered was a refreshing number of sessions addressing this fear; most notably, a well-attended discussion entitled “Why I Don’t Fear Artificial Intelligence” by XPRIZE Founder Peter Diamandis.

Dr. Diamandis was powerfully optimistic about the future. He described a future of augmenting, not circumventing, the human experience. In his session, Diamandis highlighted his work with human genomics and put a spotlight on the $5 million Watson AI XPRIZE competition. The competition aims to inspire participants to adopt cognitive technologies to develop creative, scalable and innovative demonstrations that address “moonshot” challenges in the global community. If you are not familiar with Diamandis’ work, I recommend you research his accomplishments and consider his 2012 book, Abundance: The Future Is Brighter Than You Think.

There was also plenty to learn about IBM Bluemix. It now provides a single access point for IBM Cloud platform as a service (PaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and Watson cognitive services with a single user ID, single invoice and consistent user experience. Cognitive services in the IBM Cloud make Watson’s advanced platform services easily accessible through application programing interfaces (API). Watch Jason McGee, IBM Fellow and vice president, talk about these innovations in his interview with theCUBE.

After attending World of Watson, I am even more optimistic about the future of Watson in the IBM Cloud and its role in the emerging cognitive era.  When Watson turns six next year, I can’t wait to see what unfolds in a bright new world with Watson.  Shades may be required.

Learn more about IBM cognitive solutions.

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