Watson in the cloud and around the world
Like many, I was amazed as I watched in February of 2011 when Watson won a decisive victory in the game show, Jeopardy, against champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. (See video highlights (YouTube, 00:10:14).) Like many, I had visions of what Watson's natural language processing technology might mean. Now that we are entering into a future with Watson, the reality was even bolder than I imagined!
From the beginning, we imagined Watson involved in healthcare. The technology's ability to look through diverse pieces, finding patterns and relationships, made sense for the complex issues of medical diagnosis and research. What we imagined is now reality, shown by a recent pilot completed in collaboration with IBM, Epic, and Carilion Clinic which identified 8,500 patients at risk for developing heart failure.
Data from Carilion Clinic's electronic medical records (EMRs), including "unstructured" data such as clinicians' notes and discharge documents, were analyzed using IBM's natural language processing technology. The inclusion of the unstructured data provided a more complete and accurate understanding of each patient, identifying an additional 3,500 patients that would have been missed with traditional analysis methods. That's an additional 41% of patients that might benefit from targeted preventative care.
With such outstanding success, I wonder what Watson's technology could do with other problems. That's exactly what we're going to discover as IBM has launched a 10-year initiative to bring Watson and other cognitive systems to Africa. Called "Project Lucy" after the earliest known human ancestor,
IBM is investing US$100 million to give scientists and Business Partners access to these resources to tackle some of the continent's challenges, stemming from population growth, water scarcity, disease, low agricultural yield and other factors that are impediments to inclusive economic growth. Watson will help find emerging patterns and discover new relationships in data, helping it to achieve in the next two decades what today's developed markets have achieved over two centuries.
This is a massive undertaking that will span across healthcare, education, social planning, and many other areas of African life. Participants will take advantage of cloud technologies to leverage resources that would not be available to them in any other way for unprecedented collaboration. I can't wait to see what world-changing results emerge from these efforts!
Watson technologies are changing the world, and initiatives, such as the IBM Watson Ecosystem Program, open these powerful capabilities to Business Partners using cloud technologies. Right now access is limited, but IBM is gradually expanding the program and access to the Watson Developer Cloud and experimenting with different ways to give access to ISVs that want to build a Powered by Watson application. Begin the process now to get your application started.
Or, be bold and join the IBM Watson Mobile Developer Challenge. Submit your idea for how your application could take advantage of Watson technologies. Twenty five finalists will get their own Watson API sandbox to build a prototype and demonstrate their vision to the world. Three winners will have IBM mentoring support and sandbox access to build the next Watson-powered app!
Want to see Watson in action? Join me at SXSW 2014 in Austin, Texas for a fascinating presentation by Stephen Gold. It won't just be talk, though. You'll have chances to interact with Watson yourself. I'd also love to meet you at my book signing.
Watson's not the only game in town of course! The recent BlueMix announcement makes available a number of powerful boilerplate, pre-configured sets of services, runtimes, and sample code that are ready for instant use. Some of the technologies available are:
We'll see more impressive innovations as developers join the beta.
In 2011, I could not have imagined the progress that Watson and Cloud technologies would achieve. I cannot wait to see where these innovations lead in the next few years!
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