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 newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments
cmo-xs-promo

Latest Videos

More Videos

Thanks for your feedback, Rabi. While we introduced the ROO concept using a marketing example, I also believe that it is pertinent to man...

Iggy Pintado

Introducing Return on Outcome (ROO) - Brand science - CMO Australia

Read more

Thanks for your insight, Philip. Return On Outcome (ROO) requires balanced thinking with the focus on outcomes as opposed to returns.

Iggy Pintado

Introducing Return on Outcome (ROO) - Brand science - CMO Australia

Read more

Beautiful article.

Hodlbaba

15 brands jumping into NFTs

Read more

"Blue" is really gorgeous and perfectly imitates a human customer support operator. Personally, I won't order a chatbot development for m...

Nate Ginsburg

Why the newest member of BT’s contact centre is a chatbot

Read more

As today’s market changes rapidly, the tools we use change, and it is important to adapt to those changes to continue to succeed in busin...

Anna Duda

Report: 10 digital commerce trends here to stay

Read more

Blog Posts

How the pandemic revealed the antidote to marketing’s image problem

What does marketing truly ‘own’ in most organisations? Brand and campaigns, definitely. Customer experience? That remains contested ground.

Murray Howe

Founder, The Markitects

Still pursuing a 360-degree view of the customer?

On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” It may have been true in 1993 when this caption to a Peter Steiner cartoon appeared in the New Yorker. But after 30 years online, it’s no longer the case.

Agility in 2022

Only the agile will survive and thrive in this environment and that’s why in 2022, agility will need to be a whole-business priority.

Sam McConnell

Melbourne bureau chief, Alpha Digital

Sign in