Machines will learn just like a child, says IBM CEO

But machines won't replace us, Rometty says

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty
IBM CEO Ginni Rometty

ORLANDO – Technology is shifting to intelligent machines with a capability to reason, said IBM Chairman and CEO Virginia Rometty. These machines won't replace humans, but will augment them. It is a technology that will transform business, she said.

This technology is the basis of IBM's work on Watson, its cognitive or thinking system.

Rometty, interviewed Tuesday by Gartner analysts at the research firm's Symposium ITxpo, said cognitive systems understand not only data, but unstructured data, which includes images, songs, video, and then goes a step further: "They reason and they learn."

"When I say reason it's like you and I, if there is an issue or question, they take in all the information that they know, they stack up a set of hypotheses, they run it against all that data to decide, what do I have the most confidence in, " Rometty said. The machine "can prove why I do or don't believe something, and if I have high confidence in an answer, I can show you the ranking of what my answers are and then I learn."

"The more you give me – just like a child over time – the more information, the more I learn, so they understand, they reason and they learn," she said.

But Gartner analyst Daryl Plummer expressed some skepticism. We're not talking about artificial intelligence? he asked.

Rometty said these machines are sensing systems that behave in a way that "has got some great similarities to how you and I learn."

For instance, Watson has "eyes," in the sense that it can see an image and understand it, what is happening and what the context is. In medicine, this means that if it is looking at a skin lesion it can consider whether it is melanoma or not.

Rometty, also in response to Plummer's questions about job losses and machine replacements, argued that these systems will not replace people.

Instead, they will, for instance, assist people in call centers to do a better job, or help doctors sift through treatment options.

"This is not about replacing what people do -- this is about augmenting what man does," Rometty said.

One attendee, David Liska, the division head of IT services at the Space Telescope Science Institute, which runs the Hubble telescope, agreed that the system Rometty described is needed to help shift data.

Data, is "just moving faster than we can keep up. We need help," Liska said. But he didn't agree with Rometty's assertion that these machines will reason. The machines are only as smart as the people who work on them, he said, and "unless we make another cognitive leap, I don't think so."

IBM underscored Rometty's appearance at the Gartner conference by announcing today that it had launched a consulting organization around its cognitive business, called IBM Cognitive Business Solutions.

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Supporting Association

Blog Posts

Top tips to uncovering consumer insights for business innovation

An in-depth understanding of consumers sits at the heart of what we all need to do, but we know it’s not always easy to uncover insights that will unlock a true innovation opportunity.

Matt Whale

Managing director, How To Impact

Is your customer experience program suffering bright shiny object syndrome?

You may have heard of ‘bright shiny object syndrome’. The term is used to describe new initiatives undertaken by organisations that either lack a strategic approach, or suffer from a failure to effectively implement.

Leveraging technology to stand out in the sea of sameness

The technology I'm talking about here is data and marketing automation. Current digital marketing methodology, much as it is practiced at Bluewolf, dictates the need for a strategy that does four things: Finds the right audience, uses the right channel, delivers the right content, and does all of that at the right time.

Eric Berridge

CEO and co-founder of Bluewolf, an IBM Company

Lead Management is very important part of the process. For anyone running Facebook Lead Ads I would recommend using this service.Get your...

Dirk Lo

How this fintech startup is improving content marketing and lead generation

Read more

I am agreeing with Mr. Tyron Hayes that a measured test-and-learn approach could be missing opportunities to not only better engage custo...

rush essay reviews

CMO interview: How Curtin University’s marketing chief is using test and learn to cope with complexity

Read more

Excellent!

Dr Sadasivan,US

Shakespeare shows data and creativity aren’t Montagues and Capulets

Read more

Great article! Agreed with all... Matthew Lerner, Deeps De Silva... When a company has a great product that solves customers needs, a gre...

James Tyler

Why marketers are embracing growth hacking techniques

Read more

Very good article, Social media analytics helps in problem identification. They can serve as an early warning system for negative custome...

BizVinu

Four ways to use social media to boost customer loyalty

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in