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

Is your content marketing missing the mark?

Does it ever seem like the content you create falls flat on its face or that the leads you’re generating aren’t worth following up?

Dan Ratner

managing director, uberbrand

​ Creating a purpose-driven brand

So you want to be a brand with purpose. But what does it actually mean to build a brand with real meaning?

Paul Chappell

Partner and managing director, Brand + Story

Customer experience crisis: Proactively mitigating the risk of broken promises

Last Friday, three weeks after United Airline’s spectacular customer experience disaster, customers received a letter from the company’s CEO, Oscar Munoz.

Very rarely have I come across views so true. There are so many gems in this article, reflective of reality, onec can read it again and a...

Shyam Mishra

ANZ digital chief: Tackle the ‘frozen middle’ of your organisation or face irrelevancy

Read more

STOP STEALING BUISNESS CLASS TOILETS from A380, new 787's and A330's!!!!Thats what you call customer experience ONE toilet for all Busine...

Joe

Qantas CMO: What it's taking to evolve our customer experience

Read more

Dare i suggest that a "CEO" role in a peak industry body like Think Brink is not really much of a leap from CMO because it is also a mark...

Sventana

CMO to CEO: Think Brick chief reveals what it takes to make the jump

Read more

Grate post, thanks for the post.No matter what your business is, if you do no not rank among the top most search results of Google, Yahoo...

Rahul

Image intelligence:10 must-see infographics for marketers

Read more

Thank you Shane Blandford for carrying my Smarketing vision into KM !

Peter Strohkorb

​CMO Interview: Why aligning sales and marketing drives innovation at Konica Minolta

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in