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Watson represents a new era in computing

IBM chief says companies have a duty to deploy “cognitive” systems responsibly

Image Credit: Courtesy: IBM
During a visit to Dubai, Ginni Rometty shared lessons IBM has learnt from using Watson in business settings.
Gulf News

Dubai

IBM Watson represents a new era in computing in which systems can interact and understand natural language, generate hypotheses based on evidence, and it learns as it goes, said Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President and CEO of IBM.

Watson is a question answering computer system capable of answering questions posed in natural language, developed in IBM’s DeepQA project. Watson was named after IBM’s first CEO and industrialist Thomas J. Watson.

She said that she thinks Dubai is a place of great place as a great innovation. “To me, digital is a foundation and in fact, it is another set of technology shifts.

“I would like to persuade the companies about three different things from a technology perspective. While companies may have a digital foundation, the real competitive advantage will go to those of you that can build a cognitive business on top of it. Blockchain will do for trusted transactions what the internet did for information. The third is that all will ride on the cloud. Cloud is ready for enterprise as a platform,” she said.

Rometty was in the UAE for the IBM Think Forum and met some top dignitaries and industry experts.

She said that the last time she came to Dubai was in early 2009 and Dubai has made major strides like 3D printed building, driverless Metro, second International airport and many other things.

“Watson has really become the AI for business. By end of 2017, it would have touched one billion people as it is an open ecosystem. For these systems, how they are trained matters. They are most effective when they are trained in an industry or in a domain,” she said.

“We firmly believe that AI will enhance what humans do, to make us better and not to replace us. Artificial intelligence won’t prompt a robot takeover and humans have played a vital role in AI’s advancement,” she said.

She said that companies have a duty to deploy “cognitive” systems responsibly. She shared lessons IBM has learnt from using Watson in business settings.

She explained Watson’s foray into oncology. The platform was fed textbooks, medical journals, and possible treatments and then trained on cancer causes.

As a result, she said that Watson is now able, in some cases, to spot cancer better than a panel of doctors, an outcome that points to AI’s potential to “find solutions to the world’s most unsolvable problems”.

She said that that IBM and Smart Dubai Office announced an initiative for the establishment of a Cognitive Center of Competence in Dubai. The centrewill define and deliver Dubai’s Cognitive Roadmap and help accelerate the development of cognitive citizen services across Dubai.

In October 2016, Smart Dubai Government Establishment Department of Economic Development launched “Saad”, a cognitive government service powered by IBM Watson. Saad can understand natural language, ingest and comprehend massive amounts of data, learn and reason from its interactions, and provide solutions that will aid users in deciding on correct courses of action.

Saad can understand natural language, ingest and comprehend massive amounts of data, learn and reason from its interactions, and provide solutions that will aid users in deciding on correct courses of action.

Cognit, a joint venture between Mubadala Development Company and IBM, will be engaged to support the development and implementation of Watson-based applications and Arabised, Watson capabilities.

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