Tag Archive | IBM

IBM Watson, the beginning aware artificial?

ibm watson

IBM’s Watson is a cognitive computing system, one that behaves like our brain, learning through experiences, finding correlations, and remembering — and learning from — the outcomes.

First hitting the spotlight when pitted against two of Jeopardy’s biggest all-time winners Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, IBM’s artificial intelligence machine names Watson threw these two off their throne in quick fashion – showing that artificial intelligence was a real thing and IBM has the technology.

Artificial intelligence is here now. This doesn’t mean that Cylons disguised as humans have infiltrated our societies, or that the processors behind one of the search engines have become sentient and are now making their own plans for world domination. But denying the presence of AI in our society not only takes away from the achievements of science and commerce, but also runs the risk of complacency in a world where more and more of our actions and intentions are being analyzed and influenced by intelligent machines. Not everyone agrees with this way of looking at the issue, though.

First, although Watson includes many forms of text search, it is first and foremost a system capable of responding appropriately in real-time to new inputs. It competed against humans to ring the buzzer first, and Watson couldn’t ring the buzzer until it was confident it had constructed the right sentence. And, in fact, the humans quite often beat Watson to the buzzer even when Watson was on the right track. Watson works by choosing candidate responses, then devoting its processors to several of them at the same time, exploring archived material for further evidence of the quality of the answer. Candidates can be discarded and new ones selected. IBM is currently applying this general question-answering approach to real-world domains like health care and retail.

This is very much how primate brains (like ours) work. Neuroscientists can recognize which brain cells monkeys use to represent different hypotheses about how to solve the current puzzle they are facing. Then, he can watch the different solutions compete for influence in the brain, until the animal finally acts when it is certain enough. If the puzzle has a short time limit, the animals will act for a lower threshold and will be less accurate. Just like us. And it wouldn’t be hard to reprogram Watson to do the same thing—to give its best answer at a fixed time rather than at a fixed level of certainty.

How about understanding? Watson does search text in various Internet sources (like Wikipedia) but didn’t during competition. It had to read the text in advance and remember it in a generalized way so that it could access what it had learned quickly by all different kinds of clues. Jeopardy! questions require understanding jokes and metaphors—what Hofstadter calls “analogical reasoning.” Being able to use the right word in the right context is the definition of understanding language, what linguists call semantics. If someone blind from birth said to you “I’ll look into it” or “See you later,” would you say they didn’t understand what they were saying?

If you’re looking for a thumb in the pie, IBM are now offering up part of Watson – their breakthrough natural language-based cognitive service called Watson Analytics. This analytic service is reported as a powerful predictive and visual analytic tool for businesses and can now be rented through a beta program.

There has already been 22,000 who’ve registered for the beta of this service, with IBM’s official explanation and release reading: “IBM Watson Analytics automates the once time-consuming tasks such as data preparation, predictive analysis, and visual storytelling for business professionals. Offered as a cloud-based freemium service, all business users can now access Watson Analytics from any desktop or mobile device”.

IBM was totally “as been” during the last twenty years (1994 – 2014),  going slowly towards the end of the company. But Watson, IBM could revolutionize the management of semantics which is currently lacking treatment ‘Analytics’ and take the lead on a niche again.

For the moment, it is really artificial intelligence but not more, as we can imagine with aware artificial…, for the moment. But it is probably the beginning. Aware artificial will be probably the next disruptive industrial revolution before the end of the 21 century…

Lenovo: a chinese innovation pioneer?


Lenovo’s innovation lies in its technology, products, business model and cultural management, according to Liu Chuanzhi, founder of the Lenovo Group and president of Legend Holdings Ltd., and Yang Yuanqing, CEO of Lenovo.

International acquisitions fueling global innovation

Referring to Lenovo’s innovation history, people tend to indulge in the story of Lenovo’s buying IBM’s PC business in 2004. “At that time, Lenovo didn’t expect to become the global leader of PC industry”, said Yang Yuanqing with emotions.

To date, Lenovo’s Innovation Triangle Teams in the USA, Japan, and China collaborate have been fusing together different cultures of different countries and collaborating in a 24-hour non-stop manner to ensure leading position of Lenovo’s innovation in the world.

After successfully absorbing IBM’s PC business, Lenovo’s international acquisitions have been unstoppable. Lenovo’s international mergers, from single business like PC and server to comprehensive business like cloud computing, serve not only as effective strategies for Lenovo to strengthen its operation volume and optimize market distribution, but also a way for Lenovo to bring in talented people from different fields and fill its innovation teams with new blood.

At present, Lenovo owns about 11,000 patents globally, about 2/3 of them coming from China and 1/3 from oversea teams. According to Zhang Dekui, director of Lenovo’s Innovation division, Lenovo spends USD500 million on R&D every year, and has 5,000 product developers, including engineers, researchers, and designers, and more than 100 advanced labs around the globe. These constitute Lenovo’s unique innovation and quality guarantee system.

Complete industry chain supporting innovations on multiple levels

Liu Chuanzhi has said that “Lenovo’s first innovation is to combine technology with the high-tech industry”. In 2012, when sales of Lenovo’s PCs were thriving across the world, Lenovo keenly grasped the new trend of the mobile internet and started its PC+ strategy, beginning to increase investment in mobile internet terminals like smartphones, tablet computers, and smart TVs in the meantime of consolidating its advantages in the PC industry.

Today, the fall of some traditional PC manufacturers and the achievement of Lenovo in the PC+ area have proved that Lenovo has made a right decision. In the Q2 of the 2013 fiscal year, the global market share of Lenovo’s smartphone increased to 5.1 percent, behind only Apple and Samsung, and the growth of its tablet computers was even higher. Also, sales of Lenovo’s tablet computer and smartphones had exceeded that of its PCs for two quarters in a row, their revenue accounting for 15 percent of total revenue of the company and profit margin steadily on the rise.

In Lenovo’s Innovation Center, Lenovo’s employees, from system design engineer to software application researcher, from part technology R&D director to product design director, demonstrated Lenovo’s innovation industry chain to the reporter. Lenovo has set up technologies in four major fields to bolster the entire Lenovo business innovation endeavor, including part technology and system innovation, natural interaction technology, cloud service and big data technology, and new materials and design innovation. These make up Lenovo’s core R&D innovation strategy, dubbed “one cloud and multiple screens”, and they are also the source of Lenovo’s business innovation.

Independent manufacture and protection of innovation achievements

In October 2013, Lenovo’s industry base in Wuhan was completed and put into operation. This is a comprehensive industry base that integrates R&D, production, and sales of mobile internet terminals, with a total investment of more than RMB5 billion Yuan. “In this base, a product will need to go through dozens of labs before it is finally put onto the market, and it will be examined and checked repeatedly during production. This is the advantage of independent production and development. It can protect our innovations”, said Yang Yuanqing.

There used to be doubt that Lenovo was a computer assembler and not a core technology innovator. For this, in 2011 Lenovo began to shift its focus onto parts and components, striving to achieve breakthroughs in component technologies and walk ahead of competitors in terms of system innovation. This requires Lenovo to attach more importance to working with upstream manufacturers, extensively consolidate upstream and downstream technologies, and provide parts for system innovation. Lenovo’s independent manufacturing enables it to communicate directly with upstream manufacturers, which would increase its leverage for innovation.

10 years ago, Lenovo introduced a relation-type business model that targeted at corporate customers and government customers, to go along with its consumption business model that targeted consumers. That was a business model innovation. Now, Lenovo again introduced a new-era dual business models, with one online model and one offline model, and its marketing campaign is moving from traditional advertising to internet marketing, digital marketing, and micro-blogging marketing, etc.

In 2012, Lenovo added “Pioneer” to its 4P corporate culture, showing its intention to be a pioneer of the time. Internally, Lenovo has its unique innovation mechanism, including CEO innovation discussion, ideas management, etc, so as to promote the realization of technology and product R&D.

Redbus: solution to book indian bus tickets


One of the most innovative company

48th most innovative worldwide company scored by FastCompany in 2012, RedBus is an incredible indian company. Several years ago, on a busy holiday weekend, Phanindra Sama actually ran after some Indian bus operators in a failed attempt to catch a bus home. Now, says Sama, “I’m computerizing the bus industry.” His company, RedBus, spent years unifying the system–bus operators, tickets, travel agents–and this year unveiled an integrated platform that serves more than 10,000 bus routes. Customers can view open seats from multiple operators, purchase tickets, and post ratings. Meanwhile, bus operators can track seat availability in real time, and travel agents can prebook passengers. RedBus tripled sales last year, adding 4.25 million riders.

The founders worked in Bangalore

Like all innovations, redBus has a very interesting story. All the founders used to work in Bangalore at the time (in 2005) – all with top IT MNCs – IBM, Texas Instruments and Honeywell. They were friends from BITS Pilani, one of India’s finest engineering colleges.

During Diwali that year, one of them wanted to spend the festival in his home town. Since he didn’t know his schedule till the end, taking a bus was the only choice. He ran around town hunting for a ticket, but they were all sold out minutes before he reached the travel agents. Bangalore traffic is notorious and can grip you at the wrong time. That’s exactly what happened that day.

That’s when he thought of the possibility of providing consumers the convenience of booking a bus ticket over the internet. The objective was two-fold – to ensure that they don’t have to leave the confines of their comfort to book a ticket, and to help them get a ticket when they need it the most.

Book tickets on Internet

The idea was compelling. And why not? The internet was being voted as a medium people couldn’t do without. PC and net penetration was increasing not only in urban areas, but also in rural India with innovative concepts like Shakti and e-Choupal. Also, people were getting used to booking tickets for travel using IRCTC and private airline websites. So, why not buses?

Nobody in India had already done it!

However, the most compelling reason was that no body in India had done this! So, with these thoughts running through his mind, he bounced initial thoughts off his friends from college. They were excited about the concept too. However, they didn’t want to take the plunge without understanding the feasibility of such an undertaking. They met with various people – bus operators, consumers and venture capitalists – to gauge how well the concept could do.

As expected, they got a favorable response. They started writing the code for the software that would be required to run the operations. Once this was ready, they put together a business plan and presented it to TiE, Bangalore Chapter.

TiE – The Indus Entrepreneurs – are mentors, to say the very least. They breathe lives and hope in to young entrepreneurs who have a working concept. The idea didn’t need much selling to TiE members either. That was the beginning of a seemingly long journey. All the founders quit their well-paying, secure jobs and started redBus.

Not simple to change the mindset of bus operators

Since those days there have been many ups and downs. It wasn’t simple to change the mindset of bus operators who are used to dealing with their traditional brick-and-mortar travel agents. It wasn’t easy to market the concept. It needed time and money. It took a few months for things to fall in place.

All that was needed were a few people who used the website. Once that would happen, the user interface was bound to generate word-of-mouth. That’s exactly what happened. Those who used it liked it, told others and the dominos started to fall in place.

To cut a long story short, redBus has come a very long way from days of struggle to days of growth. It has the largest number of tie-ups (and growing) with bus operators and a large and satisfied customer base. Being run by a team of young people, the culture is informal and everyone is ambitious and charged to make it larger than imagined. What started as a team of three grew into a team of 50 within 9 months.

Related articles

1. http://www.fastcompany.com/most-innovative-companies/2012/redbus
2. http://www.redbus.in/AboutUs.aspx

Innovation at school: combining Robotics With Poetry?


In 2013, French government is trying to find a way to push France to be more innovative. France is considered a moderately innovative country in Europe (see more details with the previous article TOP4 Leaders in Europe). French government is focusing on education aspect: how to infuse the spirit of innovation at school?

Art and Engineering Can Co-Exist

At the beginning, people thought she was nuts. Sue Mellon, working in United States, gifted support coordinator for Springdale Junior and Senior High/Colfax School in the Allegheny Valley School District, thought 7th and 8th graders could develop a deeper understanding of poetry by playing around with robotics.

“Originally, people looked at me like I was crazy,” Mellon said. Now, two years later, Robotics Poetry is a staple of language arts classes at Springdale and a new grant has students preparing to be peer mentors.

Poetry isn’t always easy for students. But with hands-on engagement, they gain new understanding. Take Robert Frost’s “Pasture.” Instead of just reading and discussing the work in a typical classroom setting, students made 21st-century dioramas with robotic tool kits containing sensors, motors, LEDs, and a controller. One student made a blue plastic wrap lake in an old cardboard photocopy-paper box that vibrated, thanks to the motor, and, lit up, thanks to the LED. When the student said the word “water”—students record themselves reading the poems aloud in the audio-editing program Audacity—the LED turned the plastic wrap a deeper shade of blue. When he got to the bit about the “tottering” calf, the motor made the toy calf vibrate.

Critical for Innovation

The move to include art and design in the push to advance science, engineering, and math is not just a “feel-good” move. It’s critical to the future economy and families’ standard of living. Researchers are finding that although children’s IQ scores have been steadily rising, results on the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking—a key measure of creativity—have been on the decline since 1990, just as the demand for more creative thinkers is rising. In a 2010 IBM survey, 1,500 CEOs identified creativity as a top leadership competency of the future.

At a professional development event for local superintendents, the participants had all read Daniel Pink’s book, “A Whole New Mind,” and then Pink came in to discuss the importance of creativity. An executive director of state agency that support the Sue Mellon’s school, spoke to the participants about the importance of “right-brain qualities” like empathy and inventiveness. “The message was loud and clear, and that’s when the movement started. Being strong in math and science wasn’t enough. To meet future workforce needs, we had to address the whole-brain needs of our students.”

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10 ideas Innovative Companies do to stay on Top


Innovation isn’t this abstract thing that some companies have and some don’t. Innovation is actually a business skill that executives and employees can develop and master.

No. 1: Everybody might be an innovator

Innovative companies believe that all employees should be creative. That means that all employees are looking for better ways to do things in their jobs. They are rewarded, not shunned, when they try to alter the status quo. With that as a corporate culture, new ideas thrive and so do new products.

No. 2: idea-generation measured

Whatever a company values, it measures. Companies that value innovation measure how many of the ideas they generate turn into development projects. Most companies Booz surveyed convert fewer than 20 percent of their ideas into products, but a few say they convert up to 60 percent. Size matters here in a surprising way. The smaller the company, the more likely they are to act on their ideas, the report said. That’s because even though smaller companies have fewer resources, they also have less bureaucracy.

No. 3: Ideas change a lot before becoming a product

The magic of innovation doesn’t really come at the idea stage or the winnowing stage. It comes at the feedback stage where iterations of the idea are developed and tried. Successful companies incorporate what a customer asks for with new things that the customer didn’t know were possible, so the iteration stage is as much about education as it is about feedback.

No. 4: Ideas tested with customers

Innovation isn’t just about coming up with ideas, it’s about choosing between them. The best companies know how to pick which ideas to pursue because they have good idea-picking systems in place. Many of them line up customers to be guinea pigs, trying things out for them. They find risk-taker customers who are likely to buy new things. They also build a network of internal employees and partners to be guinea pigs, too.

No. 5: An internal “idea Caesar”

Innovative companies make one or more execs responsible for finding new ideas and turning them into products and services. The Booz report calls these folks “innovation champions” and says they are assigned “to coordinate the capture, development, and internal promotion of new ideas.”

No. 6: Customers & partners associated to innovations

Creating ideas means knowing customers really well. Most creative companies say they find their best ideas by talking to customers. And “talking” means having senior execs converse with actual people about new ideas. It doesn’t mean hiring a market research firm to talk to people, although one-third of the most innovative companies do that, too. Nothing beats direct, unfiltered input from real-life customers.

No. 7: Ideas found everywhere

Innovative companies don’t care where ideas come from. They look inside their company and they look outside. Acquisitions can be a way of bringing in innovation. A company might make a purchase to open up a new area of expertise, a new market, or to bring in entrepreneurs with cutting-edge thinking.

No. 8: Ideas generated in 3 basic ways

Innovative companies fall into three categories, according to how they most frequently generate ideas, Booz finds:

  • Need Seekers talk to customers to find out what they want and generate new products based on that.
  • Market Readers closely watch the market and then quickly create incremental improvements on hot up-and-coming ideas already in the market.
  • Technology Drivers create brand-new stuff by letting their tech experts experiment.

No. 9: R&D spent thoughtfully & not reckless

The 10 most innovative companies aren’t the ones that spend the most on R&D.

Of the list of the most innovative (Apple, Google, 3M, Samsung, General Electric, Microsoft, Toyota, Procter & Gamble, IBM, and Amazon), only three of them — Toyota, Microsoft, and Samsung — are among the companies with the biggest R&D budgets, as listed in this chart from Booz. (Click here to see the chart.)

For example, Apple, Google, and 3M together spent $9.2 billion on R&D. Samsung alone spent $9.0 billion in total. Yet Samsung was ranked as more innovative.

No. 10: New ideas created systematically

Any company can come up with one or two great ideas. But to do so year after year requires systems for:

  1. Generating ideas.
  2. Choosing which ideas to pursue.
  3. Iterating on those ideas in response to feedback.
  4. Knowing that customers will buy new products before investing in production.
  5. Measuring success.

Simply put, innovative companies create systems for all five steps.

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Related articles

Seniors to rescue innovative start-ups


An entrepreneur has created an incubator in which intergenerational experienced executives are helping young entrepreneurs motivated.

“Switzerland, Canada, the North … everyone pulls seniors. So I said why not us? “After eight years abroad, Denis Jacquet, 47, a graduate of HEC multirecidivist contractor, designed the Growth Accelerator , a business incubator in which managers leaders are detached retirement of large groups to support young entrepreneurs develop their start-up.

For seniors, a “second career”

Headquartered in Boulogne-Billancourt in the district of Pont de Sèvres, the Growth Accelerator extends over 700 m2 and will be operational in a few weeks. Meanwhile, the recruitment of seniors have already begun. Denis Jacquet currently discussing the detachment of several executives at SFR, Alcatel, Sanofi, Lafarge and Alstom. “After a while, the big companies do not know use their senior laments Françoise Daut-Vallier (63), former Senior Executive at IBM and in charge of recruiting seniors for Growth Accelerator. Instead of letting them end up in the closet, so we give them the opportunity to revitalize their skills and, if possible, to start a new life or a second career. ”

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