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Interview: IBM Watson's creative director on Amazon Echo and how AI can save lives

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IBM Watson burst onto the scene in 2011 as a Jeopardy-playing computer and quickly became synonymous with artificial intelligence. Since then, AI has become a lot more commonplace thanks to the rise of digital assistants like Siri, Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant, but Watson is still chugging away in more ways than you might think, powering everything from cancer treatment software to hotel concierge robots (pictured above). I had a chance to talk to Maya Weinstein, Senior Interaction Design and Creative Director at IBM Watson, about everything from the current crop of AI assistants to how the technology can help save lives. Check out the full interview (with some light edits for clarity) below. Jacob Kleinman: What do you think of the rise of consumer AI products like chatbots or Amazon Echo?


Medtronic, IBM Watson launch Sugar.IQ diabetes assistant

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Two years after originally announcing it, Medtronic and IBM Watson have launched their joint platform the Sugar.IQ, a digital diabetes assistant. "It is designed for people who are currently using Guardian Connect; so made for people on multiple daily injections. It is a personal assistant a little bit like Alexa or Siri," Huzefa Neemuchwala, global head of digital health solutions and AI at Medtronic, said in a Facebook live informational session. "It is an intelligent assistant that keeps track of all of your information and has all of your information in one place. Then through Watson technology we use this information to power insights so we can better manage your diabetes so that you can spend more time in range."



How IBM Watson Overpromised and Underdelivered on AI Health Care

IEEE Spectrum Robotics

In 2014, IBM opened swanky new headquarters for its artificial intelligence division, known as IBM Watson. Inside the glassy tower in lower Manhattan, IBMers can bring prospective clients and visiting journalists into the "immersion room," which resembles a miniature planetarium. There, in the darkened space, visitors sit on swiveling stools while fancy graphics flash around the curved screens covering the walls. It's the closest you can get, IBMers sometimes say, to being inside Watson's electronic brain. One dazzling 2014 demonstration of Watson's brainpower showed off its potential to transform medicine using AI--a goal that IBM CEO Virginia Rometty often calls the company's moon shot. In the demo, Watson took a bizarre collection of patient symptoms and came up with a list of possible diagnoses, each annotated with Watson's confidence level and links to supporting medical literature. Within the comfortable confines of the dome, Watson never failed to impress: Its memory banks held knowledge of every rare disease, and its processors weren't susceptible to the kind of cognitive bias that can throw off doctors. It could crack a tough case in mere seconds. If Watson could bring that instant expertise to hospitals and clinics all around the world, it seemed possible that the AI could reduce diagnosis errors, optimize treatments, and even alleviate doctor shortages--not by replacing doctors but by helping them do their jobs faster and better.


Beyond the hype: The reality of what AI means for business - IBM Watson

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The adoption and application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to accelerate at an exponential rate in modern businesses. As referenced in the 2017 Tech Trend Report, AI is nearing completion of the next layer in technological advancement, integrated into everything individuals and organizations do. This trajectory is predicted to drive cumulative worldwide spending of $40.6 billion on AI projects by 2024 – according to Raconteur. This is expected to create mass opportunity for the pioneering businesses currently investing in AI development. Moving beyond the hype in existing media coverage, this post will uncover the reality behind what AI means for businesses today, in the near future, and beyond 2017.