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Thinking Machines

11 May 2015

| Author: Anthony Flack

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Thinking Machines

Last week, I managed to catch a great programme on Radio 4 which was headlined as being about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and how it is being adopted in mainstream applications.

I admit to being slightly skeptical about how the programme was going to shape up as, in my view, some of the current claims around AI fundamentally stretch the true spirit of the concept. Normally, marketeers are guilty of this stretch, for example I came across a recent product launch for a template-based CMS that claimed to no longer be template driven, but dependent on an AI engine, all for $96 per year...

The programme in part focused on the IBM Super Computer called Watson, I think named after the original founder of IBM. It concentrated on how Watson is being used in the medical sector to help doctors with diagnosis in an oncology department. The debate did touch on whether Watson would provide diagnosis independent of the doctor, with the obvious pun around 'Dr Watson' – however, it was clear that the intention behind the use of Watson is to support the doctors in processing all the information and variables and then providing inputs to the diagnosis.

The basis of the need for support and the benefit that Watson can bring was based around the sheer amount of information that a medical professional is required to absorb to remain competent. The amount of literature is expected to double over the next three years, with the rate of growth accelerating to something extraordinary, and beyond what humans can be reliably required to absorb!

The programme then moved on to describe the very interesting alternative commercial model that IBM have put in place around Watson. You can approach IBM with ideas and requests to utilise Watson, and IBM will consider a collaborative model, where on the right project IBM take a share in the future benefits of the venture as opposed to requiring prohibitive upfront investment.

The programme, In Business, can still be found on iPlayer and is well worth a listen.

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Anthony Flack

Anthony has wide experience and success in the delivery of digital and business systems transformation. He has specialist knowledge in incremental planning, sustainable delivery through teams and the pragmatic application of Agile.

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