Next week kicks-off with a milestone in the world of technology. IBM Watson, a Super Computer, not a human being, will play Jeopardy with two of the games all time champions.The press and the blogs have been buzzing about IBM Watson for months. And naturally, as a Super Computer, Watson doesn't give interviews. He's more elusive than JD Salinger was. And, as far as I know, Watson doesn't yet have a Hollywood agent, although he is about to become a TV star. So just what is this thing called IBM Watson? I've heard from a few of you via my social channels that you are eager to learn more. So here's a little more about the power of Artificial Intelligence behind Watson.
IBM Watson grew up at the T.J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York. He's named for IBM founder, Thomas Watson. The Super Computer known as Watson is the brainchild of a brilliant team of IBM researchers, lead by Dr. David Ferrucci and a team of technologists. To make Watson come to life, there are IBM'ers working on his speech, algorithms that allow Watson to have answer recognition capability followed by answer detection capability, plus a systems team that worked to give Watson the processing power to rival a human brain to answer questions via natural language and artificial intelligence. Within Watson are databases stocked with what Dr. Ferrucci calls "as is knowledge from encyclopedias, dictionaries, plays and books." This is the repository of knowledge that Watson calls upon to answer questions. So basically, Watson uses information from existing sources, compiled by humans, and then analyzes it to find answers to questions. It is the computer algorithms within Watson that allow him to read from all the stored data, to find the answers. But what allows Watson to answer so quickly? That is the IBM Power7 processor which literally powers Watson's DeepQA natural language processing technology. According to Tilak Agerwala, Vice President, Systems, IBM Research " Watson relies on multiple IBM Power 750 servers clustered together, each with four processor sockets with eight POWER7 cores per socket, and four threads per core. Combined, they make a workload optimized system that can answer questions posed in natural language in seconds. No other system in the world can do this." In other words, Watson is lightening fast in his question and answer response time, running on the IBM Power7. Watson can answer a Jeopardy question in under 3 seconds because the Power7 system can run thousands of breakthrough analytical tasks at once.
Pictured: IBM Watson, in the center, playing a practice Jeopardy round.
There is no question that Watson is quick, but is he quick enough to beat the human Jeopardy champions? At last week's Lotusphere closing ceremony, IBM Watson won a preliminary match against some IBM human challengers. Even in categories as non-scientific as fashion, the Watson Super Computer was able to answer questions. How fascinating is that? Remember to watch Jeopardy next week to see how Watson performs. Whether Watson wins or not, it's amazing that the Super Computer is a player!
If you have more questions about Watson, you can actually ask Dr. Ferrucci a question about the Super Computer. NOVA is taking your questions about Watson, and Dr. Ferrucci will answer them on Feb 17. Click here to ask Dr. Ferruci a question on NOVA on PBS.
If you're interested in attending an exclusive IBM Watson viewing party in your region, ask your sales rep for details.
Hybrid Computing Live Chat with IBM’s System Z Experts Tuesday March 15th, 11am EST, 8 am PST
Hybrid Computing has been called the future of technology, but are you ready for the future? Join our IBM experts for a presentation followed by an interactive discussion to find out. Register to attend this Tech Chat to discuss: • The versatility of multiple architectures.
• The efficiency and simplicity of a single integrated system. • The freedom to choose the best platform for deploying today's complex workloads.
The live chat will feature these IBM experts to take your questions:
• Jeffrey Frey, an IBM Fellow, and CTO System z Platform, responsible for System z architecture and design
• Kelly Ryan, Product Development Team Leader for IBM’s next generation mainframe system
• Ellen Carbarnes, System z Product Manager
• Jenna Bucher-Brown, Program Director for System z Business
• Paul DiMarzio, System z, Enterprise Integration Strategy
Pictured: IBM Watson in Action: Buzzing in with the right answer to take the lead
Some of you may have heard that on Wednesday night, the Supercomputer known as IBM Watson defeated the two biggest "Jeopardy" winners of all time: Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. IBM Watson finished the Jeopardy competition on Wednesday night with $77,147 in winnings over Jennings' $24,000 and Rutter's $21,600. Whether you turn on the TV, open the newspaper or log-on to Twitter, you'll find news of Watson's victory. Watson is sweeping the media with headlines shouting that in the battle of man versus machine, the machine won. Well, that's not quite true. Yes, Watson is a machine, but the Supercomputer is a machine created by humans. The brains behind Watson are the researchers and IBM technologists who developed this creation. Wednesday night at the special Jeopardy screening viewing at the Landmark Theatre in Los Angeles, I had the pleasure of meeting some of the brains behind Watson. Two brilliant IBM Researchers joined a full house of IBM customers at the event. Just as fascinating as watching IBM Watson play Jeopardy, was the live question and answer session that followed the Jeopardy TV show. Rick Lawrence, Manager, Machine Learning at IBM Research and Bhavani Iyer, Software Developer, IBM Research held the interest of the capacity crowd for almost an hour after the Jeopardy show ended. The human brains behind Watson shared the fascinating back story of how Watson was built and programmed for Jeopardy success.
Pictured: IBM's Bhavani Iyer and Rick Lawrence at the Los Angeles Jeopardy viewing party for IBM Watson.
According to Rick Lawrence, the power behind Watson is "2,800 IBM Power7 processor cores and 16 terabytes of working memory. " What does that look like? Well think of 10 big refrigerators all together in one room, and that gives you a vision of the servers behind IBM Watson. The IBM Watson Super Computer enjoys virtually 24 X 7 up time and lightening quick processing time via IBM's Power7 processors. This accounts for the speed with which Watson can "buzz in" to note he is ready to answer a question or search his data stores to find an obscure answer like who was inspired by William Wilkinson's "An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia" to create a famous novel? Elementary my dear Watson, Who was Bram Stoker and Watson got it right! While Watson knew his 19th century authors, there were other questions that he appeared not to know. There were a few of questions from the Los Angeles audience about some of Watson's answers during the Final Jeopardy part of the first game. In this Jeopardy match, Watson gave a notable wrong answer. The category was US cities, the Jeopardy clue was "Its largest airport is named for a World War II hero; its second largest, for a World War II battle." The correct answer was "Chicago", but Watson answered "Toronto." One customer asked, "How did Watson get the wrong city on the airport and the World War II battle question?" Good question.
Rick explained that Watson has "learned" that correct answers within the US cities category are not always cities, so that the category did not provide sufficient confidence to select Chicago over Toronto. Indeed, Watson's confidence for both answers was well below 50 percent. Rick also noted that postmortem analysis by the Watson team has shown that had the words "US City" been in the clue, Watson would have given priority to Chicago. Another question from the Los Angeles audience was, "What about how Watson computes the amount of the odd wagers/bets he made?" While Watson has tremendous capability to search and retrieve data from all the encyclopedias, dictionaries and news articles stored in his data repository, the Super Computer had an interesting way of placing wagers that did not go unnoticed by the audience. When Ken and Brad made nicely rounded wagers, like $2,000 or $5,000, Watson was coming up with odd numbered wagers like $8,788. What accounted for Watson's odd wagers? According to the researchers, it was the mathematical calculations that Watson was running that allowed the Super Computer to come up with its precisely numbered bets. Rick discussed Watson's wagering strategy in some detail, noting the the relatively low wager that Watson placed during this Final Jeopardy round reflected Watson's historical performance in this category, as well as the fact that Watson had a significant lead at this point.
The evening concluded with Bhavani Iyer taking a few questions from the audience on the Question and Answer Technology Watson uses. Bhavani Iyer is responsible for achieving the speed in the DeepQA technology that makes the system competitive in a live Jeopardy match. One audience member asked,"How is Watson processing the Jeopardy questions? " Bhavani explained that Watson considers internal representation of analyzed content of about the equivalent of 200 million pages when attempting to answer a clue. Bhavani explained that Watson's DeepQA processing is both CPU and memory intensive. Initially, Watson's computation took 2 hours to answer a question on a single CPU. By scaling out Watson's computation over 2,880 POWER7 processing cores and optimizing the computation and access to its data, Watson is able to answer most questions in about 3 seconds enabling the system to compete on Jeopardy. This how Watson can search his machine brain, just like a human processes a question through the brain pathways looking for an answer. Another question for Bhavani " What was the underlying framework within Watson used to scale things?" "We used Apache UIMA," said Bhavani. "This is a technology developed in IBM and used as the framework for the processing. This is Opensource and can be downloaded from www.uima.apache.org"
Both Rick and Bhavani were amazed by the audience's enthusiastic response to Watson's Jeopardy win. "Watson sparks the audience's imagination and everyone is fascinated by Watson whether they are technical or not," Bhavani told me after the event. "This is because Waston changes the way humans interact with computers," says Bhavani. "No more searching by one keyword for an answer, now you can just ask a question." I have a feeling, Watson will be answering a lot more questions. Think of the possibilities for enhancing decision making in scenarios like health care. The possibilities are endless.
Pictured: Roxanne Reynolds-Lair (center),CIO at FIDM, flanked by IBM Watson researchers Bhavani Iyer (left) and Rick Lawrence (right).
Last week IBM held a series of private viewing events around the United States to let our customers enjoy the IBM Watson Jeopardy final. One of the most enjoyable parts of these events is having the opportunity to speak with IBM customers about their view of Watson's supercomputing capabilities. Before the event, I had the opportunity to chat with Roxanne Reynolds-Lair, CIO of The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles. FIDM has been in downtown Los Angeles since 1969. Today, the college consists of four dynamic campuses with a co-ed student body of 6,000 full-time students from 30 countries and more than 30,000 graduates. The college's Resource and Research Center is the largest specialized fashion library in the Western United States, offering students access to print, online and electronic resources, as well as visual and creative materials. In 2009, the school achieved worldwide fame when it was featured on Bravo's popular Project Runway series. With such a large infrastructure, keeping the school systems and data running is a big task. In 2010, FIDM choose IBM Power7 to help them power their systems and keep critical information at their fingertips.
Because Roxanne is an IBM Power7 Customer, she wanted to see IBM Watson in action during the Jeopardy challenge. IBM Watson runs on the same type of IBM Power7 hardware that Ms. Reynolds-Lair uses at The Fashion Institute for Design & Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles. Following is my interview with Roxanne Reynolds-Lair, CIO of The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles.
Q. Why are you so interested in IBM Watson? A.. Watson and FIDM rely on the same IBM Power7 hardware to accomplish their mission. At FIDM we installed an IBM Power7 770 in December 2010. We run IBM i OS and Linux, with IBM Websphere Portal, IBM Content Management, IBM Websphere Commerce, Lotus Notes, Sametime, QuickR and Forms along with our custom applications. It is really exciting for our FIDM IT team and the entire IBM i and Power platform community to see "IBM Power 7" on TV and in all the Watson articles.
Q. How do you think Watson's Deep QA (Question/Answer) technology can be used after Jeopardy?
A. The applicability of Watson Deep QA in our everyday lives has limitless potential. I would like my doctor to have the Watson wealth of analytic information prioritized to determine the best diagnosis. I don't believe computers are going to take over the world but I do believe that we as humans need to take full advantage of the benefits of technology and create collaborative solutions using the best of both technology and the human brain.
Q. What did you think of a Supercomputer playing Jeopardy? A. The IBM Watson Grand Challenge was a serious research project but presented to the public in a very understandable and entertaining manner. Watson has been the "buzz" around the water cooler. The Jeopardy Challenge was presented in an informative, educational and entertaining format. And just like humans, Watson is not always perfect, but learns from mistakes and moves on to make our world better.
To learn more about how Ms. Reynolds-Lair uses Power7 at FIDM, watch this video.
Effective Storage Management is the best way to to make sure you have a contingency plan to protect your data. Be sure to take advantage of the Storage Management sessions during the upcoming Pulse conference in Las Vegas. The sessions at Pulse on Storage Management will include best practices, customer case studies and analyst presentations.
Use this convenient listing to find the locations for these sessions. You can print out this list, or send the URL to your mobile phone for easy reference during the conference.
Monday Feb. 28MGM Conference Center, Las Vegas
Storage Track Kick Off – Monday 10:45 – 12:15 – Room 312 Title:The Butterfly Effect on Information and Storage Abstract: Data and Information growth is often driven by small technical, business, regulatory, and social changes. For instance, the use of social networks, photo sharing and video sharing websites,search engines, and regulatory changes all started small but are growing into paradigm shifts resulting in significant changes in the underlying IT infrastructure. Given that data and information are directly interconnected with storage, these small changes in the overall environment can cause data and storage growth to outpace storage capacity, storage budgets, and an organization`s ability to stay ahead of these changes a phenomenon known as the Butterfly Effect. In this session, we will highlight some of the changes driving the Butterfly Effect in your storage infrastructure, how to address the changes, and how IBM can help.
Speakers: Kelly Beavers (IBM), Ron Riffe (IBM), Rachel Dile – Forrester Research Storage Management Track – Monday PM - Rooms 306 & 307
Sessions in Room 306: 2-3PM, #1146: Building and Deploying a Centralized and Consolidated Global Backup Environment: A Warner Bros. Case Study
3:30-4:30PM, #1492: Tivoli Storage Manager 6.2 and Centralized Storage Management Success at Chesapeake Energy
5-6PM, #1142: TSM Disaster Recovery Alternatives from Systems Integrator CKA: Exploiting Export/Import Functionality
6-7PM, #2016: TSM and Information Archive Roadmap and Birds of A Feather and Customer Reception
Sessions in Room307 2-3PM, #2082, IBM Storwize V7000 - An Exciting New Era for IBM Storage Solutions
3:30-4:30PM, #1197: How Aetna Achieved Major Savings in Storage Management with Tivoli Storage Productivity Center 4.2 – With an update on TPC Future Directions from IBM
5:00-6:00PM, #1527: Disaster Recovery with Versatile Infrastructure for Fun and Profit at Edith Cowan University Tuesday, March 1 MGM Conference Center, Las Vegas Storage Management Track – Tuesday - Rooms 306 & 307
Sessions in Room 306 10:45-11:45AM, #2122: The IBM Information Archive for Files, email and eDiscovery
2-3:00PM, #1072: How Ohio Health Increased Data Protection Capabilities while Shrinking Its Backup Window by 75%
3:30-4:30PM, #1708: Implementing Tivoli Storage Manager for All Backup Needs in Rex Healthcare’s Virtualized Environments
5-6:00PM, #1367: Managing 100+ Tivoli Storage Manager Servers at a Large Insurance Company – Can’t we all just get along?
6-7:00PM, #2019: Best Practices for Migrating to Tivoli Storage Manager for Your Data Protection Needs, Birds of a Feather
Sessions in Room 307 10:45-11:45AM, #1173: Managing Massive Data Growth at the Medical University of South Carolina
2-3:00PM, #1310: IBM SVC Global Mirroring Monitored with IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center at a Large Insurance Provider: With an SVC Futures Discussion from IBM
3:30-4:30PM, #1880: Optimizing Storage Management Through Successful Integration at CIGNA
5-6:00PM, #1881: How Noble Energy Ensures Reliable Backup with Tivoli and STORServer
6-7:00PM, #2017: Tivoli Storage Productivity Center Best Practices, Birds of a Feather
Wednedday, March 2 MGM Conference Center, Las Vegas Storage Management Track – Wednesday - Rooms 306 & 307
Sessions in Room 306 8-9:00AM, #1511: How Tivoli Storage Manager Supports Retailer Hamm Reno Groups Move to a Private Cloud
9:30-10:30AM, #1392: Upgrading to Tivoli Storage Manager 6 at Draper Lab
1AM-Noon, #1494: How Chesapeake Energy Plans to Protect Its Critical Applications and Meet Its SLAs with IBM Tivoli Storage FlashCopyManager
2-3:00PM, #2042: Principal Financial Groups TSM Windows Environment Best Practices for Microsoft SharePoint and Journal Based Backups
3:30-4:30PM, #1380: How a Leading ASP Migrates Customers Software Infrastructure over WAN using Tivoli Storage Manager
Sessions in Room 307 8-9:00AM, #1356: Why Automated Toll Payment Provider Sem Parar Switched to IBM Tivoli Storage Manager
9:30-10:30AM, #2103: How Morgan Stanley Used IBM Storage Solutions to Implement a Three-Site Replication Environment for Production Data
11AM-Noon, #2030: Extending the Reach of Tivoli Storage Solutions with the IBM Information Archive: A Genus Technologies Case Study
2-3:00PM, #1898: Safe, Secure and Non-Disruptive Automated Data Migration for Storage and Backup Environments: A Barclay’s Bank Case Study
3:30-4:30PM, #1847: Virginia Commonwealth University Health System's Storage Explosion Journey
On a smarter planet, technology is fueling innovation. Demand for
computing resources is growing. Are your clients ready for Smarter
Smarter Computing at the Pulse Conference
Pulse 2011 IBM is launching Smarter Computing at Pulse 2011. Join us in Las Vegas, February 27. Look for the Smarter Computing Zone in the exhibit hall. Click here to add session #2069 to your agenda now.
Don't Miss The Smarter Computing Live Stream Kickoff streaming from Pulse!
Deliver data insight with flexible platform; Achieve application scalability, and a single, trusted data truth. Data volumes are expected to grow 44x over ten years. Federated data can
help integrate, automate and secure your client’s data infrastructure.
Integrate trusted data sources across platforms
Build a trusted and unified data sources with Master Data Management
Gain performance with integrated transaction processing, analytics solutions
Support diverse applications across platforms using single trusted data
Automate data storage for performance and scalability
Efficiently manage and automate data performance, provisioning and
Manage application scalability, compression, archiving and governance
Secure your federated data across a broad infrastructure
Deliver secure data, consolidated or federated, across platforms and
Support data availability and replication across global multi-sites
IBM's Steve Mills,senior vice president and group executive of IBM Software & Systems, took the stage at IBM's Pulse conference in Las Vegas this morning to deliver a message about cost savings and the increased amount of data and "server sprawl" that will force all organizations to start working smarter towards the goal of Smarter Computing. Mills told an enthusiastic crowd of 7,000 IBM customers, business partners, press and IBM employees that now is the time to focus on their data and start consolidating and optimizing their systems to reduce costs and improve time to value. "You can have your own opinions but not your own facts," stated Mills with obvious passion. "IT consolidation saves money. Period."
Welcome to the era
of Smarter Computing - a new era of IT necessitated by economic
conditions and the need to conserve energy and precious resources. According to Mills, IT budgets are not growing, but instead shrinking. This lack of budget is forcing organizations around the globe to look at new ways to reduce the cost of doing business,while simultaneously increasing profits. To help organizations increase their business efficiencies, Mills urged the audience to consolidate their data and optimize workloads. He noted that IBM hardware, from the Power7 system behind IBM Watson to Systems Z is high performing, reliable and saves data server floor space because it is energy efficient. In one of the keynotes best received comments, Mills lauded the power of the 5.2GHz micro processor zEnterprise system, stating that IBM's ZEnterprise "runs like a bat out of hell" and is the "ultimate platform for server consolidation." He also praised the creation of hybrid environments saying, "Why fragment your workloads onto thousands of computers? You can bring in
Intel and Power blades to create a hybrid environment,” he said. “You can run
thousands and thousands and thousands of concurrent jobs.”
Clearly, the economics of Smarter Computing are compelling. Who doesn't want to double their IT capacity while improving availability and performance? Smarter Computing is clearly a way to maximize business efficiencies while increasing ROI. To hear Steve Mills keynote, register for the upcoming April 6 Virtual Event: The Smarter Computing Executive Summit. Click here to register.