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Think 2018 Day 3: Quantum, blockchain & a better future for everyone

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Blockchain, quantum, and modern infrastructure offerings are accelerating the power of computing and progressing the way we do business. Today, IBM clients such as Walmart, Hertz, and TD Bank showed attendees how these emerging technologies are quickly redefining the world of tomorrow. They also enjoyed thought-provoking talks from inspiring speakers like Dr. Mae Jemison, Sal Khan, and Tanmay Bakshi.


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Top 5 highlights from Day 3
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Top 5 highlights from Day 3

1. Quantum Computing is Here

We’ve reached a critical moment in computing. There is a whole class of problems that are too difficult for today’s largest and most powerful computers. These exponential challenges include everything from simulating the complex interactions of atoms and molecules to optimizing supply chains. But with the laws of quantum mechanics, quantum computers enable us to solve these problems and unleash untold opportunities for business. In the quantum computing keynote at Think, SVP of IBM Cloud and Director of IBM Research Arvind Krishna was joined by fellow IBMers Jerry Chow and Dr. Talia Gershon for an exploration of how quantum computers have become a reality at IBM.

Innovators like Kohei Itoh of Keio University and Seongjun Park of the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology also shared what they’re doing to better understand and explore this new era of computing. With IBM, they’re developing both guidance for quantum computing as well as working applications. Partnerships like these are what makes the IBM Q Network, the first commercially available quantum computing program, possible.


The conditions under which quantum computing is possible can only be replicated in a laboratory. That’s why organizations must join the IBM Q Network in order to use IBM Q. Connected to the IBM Cloud directly from the lab, IBM Q enables anyone to experiment with quantum computing from anywhere in the world. In fact, in the two years since launch, nearly 80,000 people, 1,500 colleges and universities, 300 high schools, and 300 private institutions have used IBM Q from all 7 continents — resulting in more than 3 million experiments and 60+ external research papers.

And you too can become a quantum pioneer today. Start experimenting at, where you can use a simple drag-and-drop interface to interact with a 5-qubit quantum computer, explore educational materials, gain access to more complex QISKit developer tools, and collaborate with the growing quantum community.

Now is the time to explore what we can do with quantum.

2. Bringing Blockchain to Business

Thanks to blockchain technology, our world is becoming more transparent, honest, secure, and connected in ways we’ve never experienced before. In Think’s blockchain keynote, three speakers with different missions all shared the unifying values of security and transparency.

The corrupt have always preyed upon the poor. David Katz, Founder and CEO of The Plastic Bank, is using blockchain to disrupt the flaws in our systems that have polluted our oceans and allowed predators to thrive. By enabling the exchange of plastic for money, items, or blockchain-secured digital tokens, The Plastic Bank reveals the value of plastic. This empowers recycling ecosystems around the world with transparency and traceability, and stops the flow of plastic into our oceans — all while helping people living in poverty build better futures.


Frank Yiannas of Walmart shared how customers want to know more about their food and where it comes from. Finally, with blockchain technologies, we’re closer to creating a transparent food system at a scale never before thought possible. Current challenges to food safety include foodborne illness, traceability, fraud and authenticity, regulatory requirements, and food waste. Blockchain can not only create greater trust with the end user, but also streamline shipment processes while unlocking opportunities for safer, more affordable, and more sustainable options. With the help of IBM Blockchain technology, Walmart has moved beyond pilot into production, and they can now trace the transaction path of food from start to finish in 2.2 seconds.

Wesam Lootah, CEO of Smart Dubai Government Establishment, is on a mission to make Dubai the happiest city on earth. With the help of IBM and businesses throughout the entire city, they’re digitizing Dubai and putting their citizens on blockchain. By December 12, 2021, Dubai will be fully migrated to a completely paperless system. From government to commerce, everything within city limits will be completely digital.

Their plan is structured around three pillars: government efficiency, ecosystem enablement, and international leadership. Everyone from government to startups must be committed to making this work, as each is an active contributor in the transformation. The long-term goal is to enable other cities and countries to follow suit. Wesam then detailed what’s needed in order to get started with blockchain:

  • Get buy-in from leadership.
  • Don’t start with technology, but start with the problem you’re trying to solve.
  • Rally all stakeholders around the shared vision.
  • Mitigate risk via proof of concept-to-pilot-to-production.
  • Be efficient with the technology.
  • Deal with conflict and communicate to create genuine alignment.

Marie Wieck, General Manager of IBM Blockchain, is eager to equip the world with the technologies that have made all of these exciting projects possible. With the IBM Blockchain Platform Starter Plan, you can start developing the code, the network, and the business model for your own blockchain initiatives.

Sign up today for your free 30-day trial

3. One Platform for Smarter Business

“While cloud is the destination, hybrid is the path,” announced Faiyaz Shahpurwala, GM of IBM Cloud Platform, introducing the central theme to the comprehensive infrastructure keynote. He was then joined by Bryson Koehler, GM and CTO of the IBM Watson and Cloud Platform, and Distinguished Engineer for IBM. Bryson explained how a scalable, consistent full stack platform can do much more than address clients’ data and AI challenges — it can also attract the best developers by giving them the best tools to do their best work.

IBMer Denis Kennelly then helped to prove this point by inviting Robin R. Hernandez of IBM, who has been working in the cloud computing space for ten years, onto the stage. He asked her questions as she offered a live demonstration of IBM Transformation Advisor, analyzing and scanning existing applications to read the complexity of moving them to the IBM Cloud. While talking with Denis about how containers work, she almost effortlessly deployed her applications in seconds. He asked her to trace it in the cloud and show it went as planned, pointing out her use of the command line. “All the real cloud developers out there use the command line,” she said, followed by some nods, smiles, and applause from the audience.

Clients and partners then took the stage to share their stories of success. John LaFreniere of Hertz shared that 2018 is “the year of putting rubber to the road.” By the end of 2019, Hertz is going to be running the majority of systems in cloud data centers and cloud workloads. Ajay Patel of VMware, Inc. told us how 30 million workloads are moving to the cloud. There are now 1,400+ customers adopting IBM Cloud for VMware workloads, and that number’s growing. Hybrid is about data center extension, and being able to lift and shift enterprise workloads is key. “We’ve been blown away with the success we’ve had with IBM,” Ajay told the audience. “It’s about customer choice, and clearly this partnership is working well.”

When you look at the market, there’s a lot of choice. But Jeff Martin, CTO of TD Bank, said the choice for him was clear: IBM is the most mature and the most capable in the space. “IBM demonstrated they understood our business,” he said, sharing his pleasure with IBM’s ability to migrate quickly and easily.

“Unless you try it, you won’t believe it,” Ajay said, inviting the audience to explore the technologies at the conference and reach out to VMware and IBM IT Infrastructure to learn more.

4. Mankind + Machine

Deep Learning to Save Lives with Tanmay Bakshi
We all use AI today, sometimes without even realizing it. On Day 3 here at Think, IBM’s youngest AI developer Tanmay Bakshi, renowned Algorithmist, Neural Network Architect, and Author, took the stage to tell us all about his work in his favorite field: healthcare. Perfectly suited for AI, the healthcare industry is overflowing with data. The average person generates enough health data to fill 300 million books in their lifetime. There were 60 billion medical images generated in 2015 in the US, yet 64% of radiologists’ time goes to non-interpretive tasks. All of this goes to show that humans alone are inefficient in working with this data, and AI could be a huge help.

This is why today, of all his recent AI projects, Tanmay believes these three are the most critical:

1. Clinical trials for drugs
Tests are run to make sure no one experiences adverse effects, but all of our bodies are different, and there are billions of us in the world, so it’s hard to guard against the potential of something going wrong. Correlation does not equal causation, so even experiences of effects in an individual can’t be verified. The FDA’s database could help solve this problem, as could many other sources — including social media. Custom models can be trained to pull that data and apply it more effectively.

2. Augmenting the lives of people through the power of cognitive
This project focuses on assisting those with special needs to allow them to live better, fuller lives. After Tanmay’s introduction of the topic, attendees watched a moving video about a woman with Rett Syndrome named Boo in a small town. As she cannot speak or express herself clearly, Tanmay and his team are working to help her communicate with her family. The technology developed used an EEG headset, custom-printed to her head, pairing the data with deep learning algorithms to sense neural responses. This project is the source of great hope for the future of those with special needs and their caretakers.

3. Assisting in the field of mental health
Tanmay is working with another team to develop and evolve a platform that uses AI to create an early warning system for depression in teens. This has been extended to the veteran population in the US as well. Chatbots can assist patients and provide an outlet for those in critical need, averting suicide and helping them on the path to wellness. Machine-learning therapy is the next step.

Tanmay ended by assuring the audience that AI is not replacing humans; it’s going to empower us! We’re amplifying our own abilities so we can do more. He sees AI more as IA: intelligence amplified.

Taking on Traffickers with Technology
As we go about our day, we may encounter situations that don’t seem right. They leave us with a strange feeling, and that’s usually because our instinct is telling us that something is wrong — very wrong. How can we all open our eyes to one of the most horrific crimes that is operating efficiently all around us? We can use data.

Human trafficking is the fastest growing global crime. There are 30 million people per year who are trafficked, and 70% of those who are trafficked are women and girls. In the US alone, there are 1 million people traded every year. This is a $32 billion industry, and it’s happening all around us. But data can shine a light on the issue. We can use data to identify patterns, like where traffickers take people and if they always stay in the same hotels. We can anticipate and make predictions by seeing their journeys through the data.

IBM has partnered with STOP THE TRAFFIK, a nonprofit organization in the UK, to help disrupt human trafficking operations. STOP THE TRAFFIK gains intelligence about human trafficking hotspots, routes, perpetrators, and victims with a visual intelligence analysis solution from IBM. Insights into raw trafficking data prevent trafficking at the source and make individuals and communities more resilient.

Diane Melley from IBM says they’re starting to see a real movement. Companies and governments are recognizing the seriousness of this issue. Melley believes that with intelligence-led prevention, we can make a difference. Ruth Dearnley with STOP THE TRAFFIK talked about how the only way we will stop trafficking is with people and technology, so she’s building something that would make the traffickers have to think twice. We can use the analytics to look for vulnerable communities and find where the traffickers are located. Determining the trends and patterns are the key.

Ruth strongly believes the greatest thing we can do is share our stories. The deception is how this hides in the shadows. It’s time to shed a brighter light on this issue. Learn more at

5. Building a Better Future

Education Reimagined with Sal Khan
Sal Khan never intended to be an education icon. However, what started as his passion project — creating online educational videos for his cousins — grew into a global digital phenomenon reaching 59 million registered students in 190 countries. In his Innovation Talk, Sal told the story of Khan Academy from the very beginning, and how he’s leveraged the internet to become a powerful voice that’s moving the dial in free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere. You can enroll in Khan Academy for free today at

Pursuit of the Extraordinary with Dr. Mae Jemison
As a child, Dr. Mae Jemison dreamt she would go into space. Years later, she became the first woman of color to do exactly that aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour. Now, as an entrepreneur and a strong, committed global voice for science literacy, she’s challenging us to think far beyond Earth. It isn’t enough to think about going just to Mars. In her 100 Year Starship initiative — an inclusive, audacious journey to transform life here on Earth and beyond — Dr. Jemison is challenging us to reimagine the social infrastructure that enabled the first era of space exploration. Now it’s time for us to think interstellar.

As we work together to overcome the countless unknown challenges of interstellar travel, we’ll propel humanity into a new era of invention and innovation, and that new era is the future we all want for our descendants. But to build an extraordinary future, a driving vision for humanity must endure across generations.


The world of today has so many exciting technologies that hail from the first era of space exploration. We didn’t know we’d one day reap the benefits of space travel in the form of weather satellites, GPS, MRIs, and countless other advances. Those technologies, in many cases the foundation of entire economies, were simply byproducts. If that’s what we can achieve by going no further than the Moon, just imagine what we could learn traveling 25 trillion miles to Alpha Centauri.

We are all Earthlings, and we will all benefit from the advances necessary to facilitate interstellar travel. If you ever find your focus wavering on the long road ahead, look up and remember we all share that one sky.

Learn more about Dr. Mae Jemison’s work at and

A Just and Inclusive Society – I Believe. I Belong. I Matter. – with Wade Davis
How do we connect with people who think differently than we do? Wade Davis, Former NFL Player, Equality Advocate, and Educator, discussed the details of how he’s bravely turned his lifelong struggle with inclusion into a career dedicated to helping people feel and understand that they matter. From feeling the need to lose his Southern accent to secretly criticizing himself constantly for being gay, he was creating self-scolding internal monologue that took years to shake.

Coming out to his family was incredibly difficult. At first, his mother’s reaction was beyond heartbreaking. But in time, he began to understand that it was due to her fear for his safety in a fearful and hateful world. That was when he shifted his focus: “How can we learn to ask smarter questions to create a more inclusive environment?” All of these experiences inspired him to start You Can Play, a social activism campaign dedicated to the eradication of homophobia in sports. He ended his talk by explaining, “My work is about removing the distance that keeps us apart.”

Debora Bubb, Chief Inclusion Officer of IBM, was then introduced to discuss what IBM is doing to create new collar jobs, foster more open dialogue, become more transparent, and include every IBMer in our actions. “We make our decisions based on ability,” she said. “We can correct those biases or we can repeat them for centuries to come.”

IBMers Jesus Mantas and Rashida Hodge followed to share their personal and professional experiences around diversity and inclusion. The tone Jesus took for his talk centered around belief. He told the audience that he believes diversity matters, and organizations can’t believe for you. They can help and support, but the believing is up to you. “I’m fortunate to work at an organization where diversity and inclusion is a strategy, not a consequence,” he shared. Rashida’s story focused on belonging. She shared cherished family advice to “do what you know,” and told the audience: “Be open, be comfortable, and be present. Wherever you are is where you belong.”

“This is not a women’s problem, it’s a systemic problem,” stated Phil Gilbert, General Manager, IBM Design. Those at the core of the problem need to be part of the solution. The world needs white male advocates for diversity and inclusion, and he implored the audience to be active participants in replacing the systems that continue to keep us apart.


Thursday, March 22

There’s more to learn as we wrap up the week at Think 2018. Join us for stories from revolutionary data scientists Dr. D.J. Patil and Jeff Jonas in the morning and get a much-needed update on the state of security in tech in the afternoon.

Jeff Jonas – GDPR: The Big Bang… from Big Data to Big Responsibility

9:30 AM PT

Effective May 2018, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into effect. With this comes big responsibilities for organizations. Data scientist Jeff Jonas shares strategies for fast-tracking GDPR compliance while positioning your organization for competitive advantage.

Dr. D.J. Patil – Data Revolution

10:30 AM PT

Dr. D.J. Patil, one of the most influential data scientists in the world, was tasked with making the largest organization in history—the U.S. Federal Government—a data-driven enterprise. Patil shares his revolutionary vision, drawing from his involvement with transformative programs like the Precision Medicine Initiative, Cancer Moonshot, and Data-Driven Justice Initiative.

Achieving Meaningful Interoperability in Healthcare: Are We There Yet?

10:30 AM PT

While big data and open standards drive advances in other industries, healthcare appears to be on the slow-lane towards interoperability. Secure, cloud-based technology platforms that leverage open standards to harmonize disparate data have real potential, through advanced analytics and AI, to drive scalable, actionable insights to empower and transform health.

Dr. John Graham-Cumming – Security on the World Wild Web

12:30 PM PT

The practical realities of the modern internet have forced malicious users to shift their strategy in performing online attacks. As a result, there is a greater need for security thought leaders to innovate in combating malicious web activity. Dr. John Graham-Cumming, CTO of Cloudflare, discusses the latest efforts to protect web traffic from increasingly sophisticated attacks.

How to Knock the SOCks off Attackers

1:30 PM PT

Life is not easy for a Security Operation Center (SOC) analyst—researching threats, hunting attackers, gathering data, reviewing logs, reporting to management, keeping up with trends and news and more. In this session, we will take a look at several areas where we can help the SOC perform better using advanced technologies and techniques…as we challenge your entire team to think like an attacker!



We can’t wait to show you Think 2018

Watch Think 2018 on demand and learn all about the ways your business can put smart to work. We hope you enjoy the keynotes, interviews, and sessions, and we can’t wait to see you in San Francisco in 2019!


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Audience Engagement Writer and Editor

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