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.
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.