February 28, 2018 | Written by: Caitlin Leddy
Categorized: AI | Trends and Profiles
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Allie Miller has always been a doer. From starting her first company as an eight-year-old, to creating the country’s largest AI student group, to doing the polar plunge in the Antarctic Ocean – Allie has always found a way to grab life by the horns and get the job done.
Now, after receiving an MBA from Wharton and graduating with a degree in Cognitive Science from Dartmouth, Allie has joined the ultimate get-it-done heavyweight, IBM Watson. As part of the Visual Recognition team, Allie is shaping the future of the Watson technologies that help businesses understand the context of their images, leading to the discovery of actionable insight.
Heading into Think 2018, Allie takes a short break from her aggressive to-do list to talk about how Watson is partnering with professionals to help businesses “get it done” in revolutionary new ways – and what exciting opportunities, but also potential hurdles, are on her radar for 2018.
How did you end up with a career in AI, and what brought you to IBM Watson?
Since I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with the way people process information, and what drives their decision-making. Whether it’s a complicated work challenge or just choosing the route we take to work in the morning, how we as humans reason and problem-solve is fascinating.
Heading to Dartmouth, I knew that’s what I wanted to learn more about. Since the power of AI really lies in augmenting human capabilities, I chose to study Cognitive Science—a blend of Psychology, Philosophy, Linguistics, and Computer Science. This expanded my understanding of the human mind, how it works, and what influences our decision-making. I wanted to take these classes and home in on the technical aspect of cognition, which led me to run a two-and-a-half-year study on natural language. That really laser-focused my career path toward artificial intelligence.
I was offered several AI opportunities, but what drew me to Watson was not only IBM’s early leadership in the space, but also the care and commitment that IBM takes in training and development. I’m constantly learning, growing, being challenged and pushed. I can’t wait to get up every morning and not just read about what’s coming next, but contribute to it every day.
You’re about to take the stage at Think 2018. What’s on your mind to share with the world?
The progress we have made with visual recognition technology in just the past few years, to me, is astounding. Beyond pulling insight out of content, Watson Visual Recognition can really be customized for any use case. And, since Watson can understand industries inside and out, it’s almost like having an instant co-pilot that understands exactly how you live and work, and makes you smarter about what you’re doing. It’s really that simple.
There’s nothing I love more than taking 15 minutes to show someone just how easy it is to adopt Watson into their business – and how it can boost their bottom-line. Once we take away this hesitation and skepticism, the opportunities and possibilities quickly emerge.
But, in addition to running toward these exciting opportunities, I’m constantly mindful of the pitfalls. AI is a powerful technology, and with power comes great responsibility. We need to make sure we innovate at the same rate we create guardrails.
What is the most exciting part of your job?
You mean other than the free Diet Coke? For me, it comes down to the frontier work, the opportunity to affect important change on our world – and collaborating with some of the best, brightest people I’ve ever met.
The beauty of Watson is that it’s for everyone. A large enterprise can integrate AI into their workflows and see immediate, tangible benefits: increased productivity, better insight, and enhanced decision-making. But what’s even more exciting is that today everyone, even smaller businesses and individuals who may have fewer resources or technological know-how, can benefit. We’ve created accessible avenues for small, medium and large companies to access AI. We can deliver big, complex solutions or smaller, scrappier ones. Nothing gets me more excited than when I show someone — a professional, a friend — just how easy it is to instantly implement and benefit from AI.
If you had to sum it up, what will AI do for us this year?
I think AI will make each of us increasingly unstoppable. AI is highly technical, but it’s also immensely humanistic. AI could deepen what it means to be human. By taking everything we produce — the documents we create, photos we share, conversations we have — and extracting insight we never could have seen, we can be better — more creative, more inspired, and more resourceful. The power of having Watson, the ultimate “go-getter”, behind it all is incredible.
Want to hear more from Allie? Register for Think 2018 today and make sure you check out her session. You can read more about Watson services here, and follow Allie on Twitter (@alliekmiller) and LinkedIn.
Enter the code TK18WVIP and select “Watson” as your interest to get the Watson VIP Experience and $300 off your registration for IBM Think 2018.