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

Why customer experience driven growth is set to take off

Our overall brand perceptions are invariably shaped by our experiences. And loyal customer relationships can be severed in moments by a negative service interaction.

Consistency and conversation: How branding and advertising can work better together

Advertising and branding are two of the most visible outputs of marketing, which is why getting them right is so important. However, too often the line between branding and advertising becomes blurred. This means advertising activity can be out of sync with brand, resulting in poor results for both functions.

Dan Ratner

managing director, uberbrand

Putting your brand on the Love Index

How much do your customers love your brand, product or service?And more importantly, why?

Bronwyn van der Merwe

Managing director, Accenture Interactive

Someone needs a swift kick up the bum for such an idiotic idea.

random

​Why a degree is no longer enough to get you hired as a skilled marketer

Read more

The frequent flyer programs are the new profit machines for airlines all over the world, as they have morphed to be mass marketing machin...

Steve@iFLYflat

Velocity frequent flyers program strong performer in mixed half-year for Virgin

Read more

Hi Jennifer, thanks for sharing these info regarding the digital marketing trends.I've created a related video to this topic, would you m...

Fabio Carry

Predictions: 17 digital marketing trends for 2017

Read more

Great news. Marketing automation can be very useful for companies at various stages of development. With so many tools out there it's bet...

Ben

How HBF rolled out marketing automation in eight months

Read more

I read a report that the business sector in Australia as a whole have yet to fully harness and see the proactive change that predictive a...

Alex Martin

Report: Predictive analytics, IoT, machine learning battle it out for marketing dollars

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in