IBM Hosted a Big Party for Watson With Its CEO as the Star

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2016-10-28 Print this article Print
IBM Watson

Along the way, this week at World of Watson, IBM also made Watson-oriented deals with Slack and Pearson, brought machine learning to the new Watson Data Platform, introduced its Watson Virtual Agent cognitive conversational technology, advanced its DB2 database to incorporate hybrid transactional analytical processing (HTAP), introduced new Watson solutions for professions, added Watson capabilities to the IBM cloud video platform, infused IBM MobileFirst for iOS apps with conversational and cognitive features and launched a Watson-powered Weather Channel bot for Facebook Messenger.

"IBM's World of Watson was easily one of the best and most interesting vendor events of this year's fall conference season," said King. "Not surprisingly, the company's ambitions for the Watson platform were on full display. However, the presence of numerous partners and customers testifying about the benefits they are already enjoying with Watson-based solutions demonstrated that IBM is delivering the goods with Watson and touching millions of lives in the process."

Indeed, Grady Booch, IBM's chief scientist for software engineering told eWEEK his biggest takeaway from the event was the sheer number of people who showed up for the event who are working with or interested in working with Watson.

A bit has been made of late about Watson only running on the IBM Cloud. But where else should it run, particularly at this point? IBM argues that among other things, the Watson technology is optimized for the IBM Cloud. And the company says it will enable some sort of linkage to Watson via data lakes. These are still early days for the technology. Bet you won't see Microsoft Cortana Intelligence Suite running on anything other than Azure.

Folks also continue to ask about Watson and the bottom line. That's become a fair question at this point. If World of Watson is any evidence, IBM may have more to say on that soon enough.

This brings the saga back to Rometty and the guests at the Watson party. Emphasizing the importance of education, she beckoned U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. onstage to talk about Watson and its value to education.

King said Watson represents an opportunity to "meaningfully personalize" education and give teachers a tool to help build knowledge.

"What we want is for every child to have the opportunity to pursue their talent, and we can do that through school," he said.

Finally, Rometty welcomed Alex Da Kid to join her onstage to discuss how Watson influenced his effort to write and produce his latest song, "Not Easy," which features X Ambassadors, Elle King, and Wiz Khalifa.

"Watson helps to trigger different ways to help to start creation," the entertainer, whose proper name is Alexander Grant, said.

IBM said to help Grant, Watson analyzed millions of lines of text from social media and other sources. And it mined the lyrics of hundreds of hit songs for patterns and thematic trends.

Watson's input helped Alex Da Kid create a song that reached hit status faster than normal, he said—and he has worked with the likes of Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Eminem and Imagine Dragons, the last of whom later performed at the World of Watson event.

"The music industry is changing and I love exploring and looking for new rules of engagement," he said. "So this could definitely be something that changes the paradigm in terms of a new way of working," Alex Da Kid said of Watson, with which he plans to make three more songs.

Alex Da Kid clearly enjoyed his time interacting with Rometty—he'd say so later in meetings with the press—alternately beaming at her like she might be his favorite aunt and teasing her about being in his next music video.

But before he left the stage he turned the tables. He asked Rometty: "What inspires you?"

To which she paused and simply said three words: "Changing the world." IBM is indeed trying to change the world with Watson.


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