A report on the 1st Annual IBM World of Watson Conference, held at the Duggal Greenhouse, Brooklyn, New York, May 4th – 6th, 2015.
Artificial Intelligence-derived recipes, Water Taxis, and a $25,000 hackathon, these were all aspects of IBM’s creative genius that The Duggal Greenhouse warmly welcomed. As I listened to the myriad of applications The IBM Watson had ranging from finance to medicine, I realized what made World of Watson unique from all other conferences. Cognitive computing science had officially hit consumers. This was the first consumer-oriented cognitive computing science conference that demonstrated practical value to the consumer across an array of different industries. Mike Rhodin (IBM, USA) said the Watson Team was addressing the fundamental problem of the ability to scale human knowledge. Ginni Rometty (CEO, IBM, USA), talked about how 250 independent software vendors were re-selling cognitive applications. Moreover, 5000 companies were in the pipeline for partnership. 100 universities were building the next round of entrepreneurs. To set the tone of the conference, Ms. Rometty highlighted three points for Watson’s cognitive services: 1) It could augment the decisions humans made 2) IBM really wanted an ecosystem where Watson was an open platform 3) There was no right and wrong. She closed her opening remarks with a powerful statement on how every decision man-kind made would eventually be informed by a cognitive system similar to Watson – and all human lives would be transformed because of it.
We would help oncology with 300 medical journals, 200 textbooks, 23 million articles, and every clinical trial ever done.
At World of Watson, they announced a number of new projects, including the Watson Genomic Analytics program and its role in matching DNA with tumors. Moreover, they announced the Alchemy API and the different APIs with services such as personality insights, speech to text function, machine translation, and others. Watson’s ability to process natural language and augment decisions made it novel from any other program prior to it. Lukas Wartman, M.D. (McDonnell Genome Institute at Washington University in St. Louis, USA) talked about his battle with leukemia and how Dr. Watson was essential for coming up with a sequence-based treatment plan. Norman Sharpless, M.D. (University of North Carolina Lineberger Cancer Center, USA) claimed that drugs programmed into Watson would have the ability to pick the humans they were appropriate for in the next two to three years. Watson was also learning to speak new languages. Annette Bruls, VPGM (Medtronic, Switzerland) closed with a talk on how over 300 million patients were diagnosed with Diabetes and how that number was rising quickly.
Transforming Industries and New Eras Cognitive Computing Opens
Mr. Rhodin made a comment on how each of person would generate 1100 terabytes of data. 20-30% of that data would be genomic data whereas the remainder of it would be exogenous data. With IBM Watson Health’s partnership involving Apple, Johnson & Johnson, and Medtronic, the team would be moving forward quickly.
Bridget van Kralingen (DBS, Singapore) talked about their digital banking services across 70 markets in Asia in countries including Taiwan and Singapore. She also talked about how scalability was a serious issue. Ms. Kralingen closed with a statement on how she would have loved to have a relationship manager via Watson. Moreover, the relationship manager program should have had the ability to like, dislike, comment, and click.
Stephen Gold (IBM, USA) continued the conversation with a segment on how his bike shopping experience would be transformed. He started with a story about how he got 270 million search results when he Google’d potential bicycles to purchase. To solve this problem, Brian O’Keefe (Sellpoints, USA) took the stage.
Mr. O’Keefe started with a comment about how Stephen’s Google’ing habits represented 60% of all shoppers. He also mentioned how Stephen’s probability of actually buying a bicycle was 30% if Mr. Gold differentiated between choosing a road category and a traditional category. Brian continued on to talk about how Stephen also preferred to test ride a bike before buying it. This shopping behavior brought to light another problem many shoppers wanted to avoid -- interacting with clerical staff that had no knowledge about the product the consumer was looking for.
Mike Garel (CEO, EyeQ) addressed the clerical staff issue by discussing the advantages of e-commerce. EyeQ’s use of e-commerce increased the company’s sales by 20%. However, 92% of the brand’s revenue still came from purchases in the physical store. EyeQ even gamified the shopping experience and took into their consumer’s personalities to customize their shopping experiences. To customize the experience, EyeQ leveraged their consumers’ Twitterfeeds, age, and gender.
Continuing on, Dan Hartveld (Redant, United Kingdom) continued to solve two major problems: 1) 57% of sales assistants received less than two hours of training before being put in front of a customer 2) 43% lied to customers every week due to a lack of project knowledge. His solution involves utilization of one of many APIs Watson offered: the Q&A API.
Stephen Gold re-directed the conversation to how Ford was re-inventing the car-shopping experience in a similar fashion to the bicycle industry. To discuss details, Marc Fecker (VP, Forddirect) came to the stage. Mr. Fecker brought to light how his company was trying to solve the “pushy salesman” problem. However, creating this experience and using Watson to re-train Ford’s sales staff had proven its own set of challenges.
On a panel involving Jon Iwata (IBM, USA), Chef James Bricione (Institute of Culinary Education, USA), Mark Kris, MD (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, USA), and Beverly Olivier (Deakin University, USA), they discussed the their personal experiences using cognitive applications. Mr. Iwata initiated the conversation with a question on whether Watson was an icon of innovative business. Chef Bricione commented on his use of Watson for three years to formulate recipes that excited the chefs that worked for him. Dr. Kris highlighted how he knew IBM Watson was helpful when it took such a short amount of time to recommend appropriate chemotherapy regimens for his lung cancer patients. Finally, Ms. Olivier highlighted Watson’s use in the academic engagement sector in Australia. There were 50,000 students across Australia. 20% of them never came to campus. Regardless, every student and staff member could have asked Watson for advice. To help with Watson user engagement, Mr. Olivier went as far as to employ some students just to use Watson and give feedback.
Mike Rhodin and Chris Anderson (TED, USA) closed the first day with an exciting announcement on how IBM Watson would partner with TED’s 25,000 users. For example, this partnership would leverage the power of Watson’s Relationship Extraction API to find relevant videos based on the 1000s of TED talk videos posted.
I: Feature Presentation I: Data Analytics in Cognitive Computing
Terry Jones (Wayblazer, USA) started the morning off with a blurb on how we cannot predict the future applications of the technology we develop today. For example, when the cellphone was developed, no one knew that there would be 7.3 billion cellphones in use today. Moreover, he reviewed how connectivity lead to opportunity. In the travel industry, users began to create information and reviewing their travel experiences. Tripadvisor.com had 130 million hotel reviews. 80% of the 18,000 travel agents disappeared almost overnight. He highlighted how complexity also lead to opportunity.
He regailed Duggal Greenhouse with a strategy American Airlines used with reducing the commission rates they were charging Orbitz. As American Airlines titrated commission rates from 10% to 0%, Wayblazer added telephone services and service fees. Mr. Jones closed with a high level mark on how the last 25 years were all about who could build things the cheapest. The next 25 years would be about who can build things the smartest.
Francesco D’Orazio (Face and Pulsar, United Kingdom) continued the session about his thoughts on Watson’s text analytic capabilities in social media. Mr. D’Orazio had three points to make on utilizing Watson’s Alchemy API: 1) A taxonomy could be a specific concept 2) Social media research was not about data mining, rather data surfacing 3) Social media had gone visual. He closed with a graph on the alcoholic drinking habits of fans specific to the type of celebrity. Apparently, Taylor Swift fans definitely do not like to drink Guinness.
Bruce Porter, Ph.D. (University of Texas Austin, USA) was a professor and chair of the University of Texas – Austin Computer Science program. He delineated the difference between artificial intelligence (AI) and intelligence augmentation (IA). AI was the recreation of human cognition. IA was the enhancement of human cognition. Bri Connelly (Cerebri, USA) was the student winner of the IBM Watson Entrepreneur Challenge. She commented on the problem her application was solving – the navigation of social services. Dr. John Kelly III (IBM, USA) closed the opening session with how he was improving clinicians’ abilities to diagnose skin disorders like benign skin lesions and melanoma. After uploading 3000 images of skin lesions to Watson, his team told Watson that 200 images were skin cancer. Watson was then able to identify the texture/coloring of those images to accurately diagnose the respective skin disorders (or lack thereof).
II: New Disruptors, APIs, and Discoveries
Stephen Gold transitioned with comments on how the audience could have visited the Innovation lab upstairs to build their own cognitive application in 30 minutes.
John Adler (IBM Watson, USA) opened the next session with talks on how the world was changing quickly through technology. 81% said mobile was fundamentally changing how they did business. 2.5 billion users were active on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Mr. Adler talked about Watson’s role in concierge services, contact centers, and in-store representative services. The question that he left the audience members with were: 1) How do I personalize the discussion? 2) How do I leverage the user? 3) How do I make the dialogue so human-like that it gave the customer a feeling of assurance that they received the information they needed in a compassionate way?
Jonathan Young (IBM Watson, USA) talked about four companies trying to answer these three questions: GenieMD, AstorTel, Wayblazer, and Personal Bank. He then continued with a conversation of a miniature human-figured robot capable of conversing about mortgage rates. The robot’s name was Mr. Cuddles. Soheil Sadaat (GenieMD, USA), gave insight to Watson’s value in stroke patients. He purported the value of Watson knowing the experiences of patients 1) recovering from a stroke 2) preventing a future stroke 3) exhibiting warning signs of a stroke 4) undergoing treatment plans for a stroke, and 5) Having risk factors for a stroke. Mr. Sadaat closed with a fact on how 10 PubMed articles had been published during the 5 minutes he was on stage. This fact was stated to show how the wealth of knowledge was too overwhelming to keep up with.
Mr. Adler closed the session with an introduction to the Watson Engagement Advisor. The Engagement Advisor resolved issues faster with high customer satisfaction & trust rates. It incorporated Watson’s Q&A API, Watson Dialogue Services, and Watson Curator Collections. He had also hit on the three key phases of “The Cognitive Application Development Journey”: 1) Cognitive Value Assessment 2) Configure and Train 3) Deploy and Manage
Nextly, a second breakout session on the IBM Watson Health started in the developer’s tent. Farhana Alarakhiya (IBM Watson Health, USA) started the panel discussion off with the problem of an aging population with increasing chronic diseases in the United Kingdom. She continued with a comment on enabling three ecosystems: 1) Data 2) Insights 3) Solutions. She also mentioned how important IBM’s partnerships with Apple, Johnson & Johnson, Point of Care, and Geppetto were to IBM Watson’s success. IBM Watson Health’s newest partnership was with Explorys. With 50 million patient records, Explorys would be delivering insights on operation metrics and outcomes metrics.
Amy Frankowski, MD (Mercy Health Select, USA) added to the discussion on the role of accountable care organizations. Her team utilized coordinated care with actionable data to engage patients. Charlie Lougseed (Explorys, USA) chimed in with the value Explorys’ healthcare data analytics services brought to the table. With the largest patient data set in the world, Explorys was enabling healthcare systems that were strained for resources to function. When asked to describe Utopia in a word, Mr. Lougseed responded with the word, “veracity.” Ashok Rai, MD (Prevea Health, USA) talked about his company’s drive to created patient-centered homes. Moreover, his biggest challenge he faced in terms of extending his “patient-centered home” model to physicians was getting partnering companies interested in the new model.
For the first time in history, IBM and NUI Central co-sponsored a hackathon awarding $25,000 in prize money to those who could develop the best cognitive applications. 2nd place was a cognitive application that utilized the Bluemix platform’s personality insights API. The winner of the hackathon was a cognitive application that connected users to other users with similar interests. All of these cognitive applications were built within 48 hours by about 200 developers from across the world.
In an afternoon breakout session, some of the distinguished IBM staff gave 7 practical lessons on how to build a cognitive application. These lessons were: 1) Gather the right data 2) Design for scale 3) Build a feedback loop 4) Collect user insights 5) Connect with users 6) Turn insights into action 7) Integrate and evolve.
Fish markets, a talking artificial intelligence banking robot, and college students with cognitive application companies – these were just some of the professional components of World of Watson that IBM gave New York City this year. With the advent of utilizing cognitive computing applications to perform tasks ranging from scientific literature review to car salesman training at lightning fast speed, the value of Watson had just come to surface. As a result, clinical outcomes are expected to improve, sales staff services will be more accurate, and customers/patients will feel like they have received optimal service. Unlike any other conference to date, World of Watson had demonstrated the value and successful functionality of consumerized artificial intelligence. The consensus among speakers at World of Watson was clear: cognitive computing science would disrupt many service-based industries.
Nicholas Vu, Pharm.D.