Mar
22
2018
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IBM can’t stop milking the Watson brand

More than seven years after IBM Watson beat a couple of human Jeopardy! champions, the company has continued to make hay with the brand. Watson, at its core, is simply an artificial intelligence engine and while that’s not trivial by any means, neither is it the personified intelligence that their TV commercials would have the less technically savvy believe.

These commercials contribute to this unrealistic idea that humans can talk to machines in this natural fashion. You’ve probably seen some. They show this symbol talking to humans in a robotic voice explaining its capabilities. Some of the humans include Bob Dylan, Serena Williams and Stephen King.

In spite of devices like Alexa and Google Home, we certainly don’t have machines giving us detailed explanations, at least not yet.

IBM would probably be better served aiming its commercials at the enterprises it sells to, rather than the general public, who may be impressed by a talking box having a conversation with a star. However, those of us who have at least some understanding of the capabilities of such tech, and those who buy it, don’t need such bells and whistles. We need much more practical applications. While chatting with Serena Williams about competitiveness may be entertaining, it isn’t really driving home the actual value proposition of this tech for business.

The trouble with using Watson as a catch-all phrase is that it reduces the authenticity of the core technology behind it. It’s not as though IBM is alone in trying to personify its AI though. We’ve seen the same thing from Salesforce with Einstein, Microsoft with Cortana and Adobe with Sensei. It seems that these large companies can’t deliver artificial intelligence without hiding it behind a brand.

The thing is this though, this is not a consumer device like the Amazon Echo or Google Home. It’s a set of technologies like deep learning, computer vision and natural language processing, but that’s hard to sell, so these companies try to put a brand on it like it’s a single entity.

Just this week, at the IBM Think Conference in Las Vegas, we saw a slew of announcements from IBM that took on the Watson brand. That included Watson Studio, Watson Knowledge Catalog, Watson Data Kits and Watson Assistant. While they were at it, they also announced they were beefing up their partnership Apple with — you guessed it — Watson and Apple Core ML. (Do you have anything without quite so much Watson in it?)

Marketers gonna market and there is little we can do, but when you overplay your brand, you may be doing your company more harm than good. IBM has saturated the Watson brand, and might not be reaching the intended audience as a result.

Mar
19
2018
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Apple, IBM add machine learning to partnership with Watson-Core ML coupling

Apple and IBM may seem like an odd couple, but the two companies have been working closely together for several years now. That has involved IBM sharing its enterprise expertise with Apple and Apple sharing its design sense with IBM. The companies have actually built hundreds of enterprise apps running on iOS devices. Today, they took that friendship a step further when they announced they were providing a way to combine IBM Watson machine learning with Apple Core ML to make the business apps running on Apple devices all the more intelligent.

The way it works is that a customer builds a machine learning model using Watson, taking advantage of data in an enterprise repository to train the model. For instance, a company may want to help field service techs point their iPhone camera at a machine and identify the make and model to order the correct parts. You could potentially train a model to recognize all the different machines using Watson’s image recognition capability.

The next step is to convert that model into Core ML and include it in your custom app. Apple introduced Core ML at the Worldwide Developers Conference last June as a way to make it easy for developers to move machine learning models from popular model building tools like TensorFlow, Caffe or IBM Watson to apps running on iOS devices.

After creating the model, you run it through the Core ML converter tools and insert it in your Apple app. The agreement with IBM makes it easier to do this using IBM Watson as the model building part of the equation. This allows the two partners to make the apps created under the partnership even smarter with machine learning.

“Apple developers need a way to quickly and easily build these apps and leverage the cloud where it’s delivered. [The partnership] lets developers take advantage of the Core ML integration,” Mahmoud Naghshineh, general manager for IBM Partnerships and Alliances explained.

To make it even easier, IBM also announced a cloud console to simplify the connection between the Watson model building process and inserting that model in the application running on the Apple device.

Over time, the app can share data back with Watson and improve the machine learning algorithm running on the edge device in a classic device-cloud partnership. “That’s the beauty of this combination. As you run the application, it’s real time and you don’t need to be connected to Watson, but as you classify different parts [on the device], that data gets collected and when you’re connected to Watson on a lower [bandwidth] interaction basis, you can feed it back to train your machine learning model and make it even better,” Naghshineh said.

The point of the partnership has always been to use data and analytics to build new business processes, by taking existing approaches and reengineering them for a touch screen.

“This adds a level of machine learning to that original goal moving it forward to take advantage of the latest tech. “We are taking this to the next level through machine learning. We are very much on that path and bringing improved accelerated capabilities and providing better insight to [give users] a much greater experience,” Naghshineh said.

Mar
19
2017
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Galvanize will teach students how to use IBM Watson APIs with new machine learning course

 As part of IBM’s annual InterConnect conference in Las Vegas, the company is announcing a new machine learning course in partnership with workspace and education provider Galvanize to familiarize students with IBM’s suite of Watson APIs. These APIs simplify the process of building tools that rely on language, speech and vision analysis. Going by the admittedly clunky name IBM… Read More

Sep
29
2016
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Watson Financial Services is born out of IBM’s purchase of Promontory Financial Group

Lighthouse shining beam into thick clouds If Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest had a big data eating contest brother, IBM would be a serious contender for first place. Today the tech stalwart announced that it had come to an agreement to acquire Promontory Financial Group.  To make sense of this deal, you have to avoid relegating Promontory into the small box of financial services. Instead, it’s most practical to think… Read More

Feb
17
2016
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IBM and SoftBank Launch First Japanese Language APIs for Watson

shutterstock ibm A year ago, SoftBank teamed up with IBM to bring its supercomputer Watson to Japan. Now Watson has learned enough Japanese for developers to take advantage of its new skills. Read More

Feb
10
2016
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IBM Watson Teams With Toronto Raptors On Data-Driven Talent Analysis

Toronto at Washington 04/26/15 IBM announced today that is has teamed with the Toronto Raptors to bring cognitive analysis in the form of IBM Watson to the NBA team’s talent evaluation process.
The new tool called IBM Sports Insights Central, pulls in data from a variety of sources including statistics, video, social networking sentiment analysis, medical records and much more. It compares this data against the… Read More

Nov
19
2015
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Apixio’s New Iris Platform Uses Your Doctor’s Notes To Derive Insights

Apixio-HCC-Profiler-Dashboard [18837613] Data science applications for healthcare are finally trying to catch up to the rest of the world, with one new effort coming from six-year-old Apixio in San Mateo, CA. This morning, the company is launching a cognitive computing platform called Iris that derives insights from clinical data and other information in the health system. More specifically, Iris uses a powerful data… Read More

Sep
25
2015
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Data Driven Everything Remains Elusive

shutterstock_117664681 One thing was clear at Dreamforce last week, Salesforce’s enormous customer conference — something that has become apparent to anyone paying attention. It’s becoming a data-driven world. We are awash in data, but the problem is figuring out what we are supposed to do with it. Salesforce wants to be the center of your data-driven customer strategy, of course. To that end,… Read More

Sep
21
2015
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IBM’s Watson Won’t Be Replacing Humans Any Time Soon

Alex Wilhelm and John Kelly from IBM Watson at TechCrunch Disrupt SF There is little doubt that IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence system is an incredible piece of technology, It’s capable of searching across vast repositories of unstructured digital data and returning answers remarkably quickly. But it won’t be replacing humans anytime soon, Dr. John Kelly who leads the Watson team at IBM told TechCrunch’s Alex Wilhelm today at… Read More

Aug
06
2015
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IBM Buying Merge Healthcare For $1B To Bring Medical Image Analysis To Watson Health

Physician looking at information on a large monitor. IBM announced a huge deal today, agreeing to pay a billion dollars for Merge Healthcare, a medical imaging company it plans to fold into the Watson Health unit. Merge’s technology is in use in 7500 healthcare facilities in the US, according to information supplied by IBM. The firm processes billions of images such as x-rays, MRIs and CT scans with 30 billion images processed to-date,… Read More

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