IBM Senior Vice President and Research Director Dr. John E.
Kelly III and IBM writer Steve Hamm have authored a book, Smart Machines:
IBM’s Watson and the Era of Cognitive Computing, which will be published by
Columbia University Press this fall. The book presents a comprehensive
perspective on the future of technology and calls for government, academia and
the global tech industry to help power this coming wave of innovation.
Steve answered a few questions about the book and its focus
on cognitive computing in a recent interview, below. You can also read a free
sample chapter at Columbia
IBM Research: What is the era of cognitive computing?
Steve: John and other leaders at IBM believe that
we’re on the cusp of a new era in computing. Scientists at IBM and elsewhere
are creating machines that sense, learn, reason and interact with people in new
ways. These machines will help people penetrate complexity and make better
You can think of a cognitive system as a truly intelligent assistant
that helps individuals live and work more successfully, and that helps
organizations become more efficient and effective. The implications are huge
for individuals, businesses and society as a whole. With these technologies, we
will be able to make the world work better and more sustainably.
IBM Research: Why write a book now?
Steve: The idea that we’re entering a new era of
computing emerged over the past couple of years. It began when a small group of
IBM Research scientists engaged in the mental exercise of envisioning how
computing would evolve over the next century. They realized that, because of
recent and anticipated advances in science and technology, computers of the
future would be fundamentally different than the machines that evolved since
the 1940s. But revolutions don’t happen on a timetable. You need a forcing
function to get things going.
So the idea behind the book is to stimulate new thinking
within industry and academia. Just as importantly, we hope to inspire
university and high school students
to pursue studies and careers in science, technology and mathematics. Amazing
progress has been made in computing, but we believe a lot of effort by a lot of
people and organizations will be needed for the era of cognitive computing to
come on strong.
IBM Research: John Kelly will be talking about the
era of cognitive systems at the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley next
Tuesday. How can people find out what he says?
Steve Hamm is a communications strategist and writer at
IBM. Previously, he was a journalist for 30 years, most recently at
BusinessWeek magazine. He has authored two books, Bangalore Tiger, about the rise
of the Indian tech industry, and The Race for Perfect, about innovation in
mobile computing; and co-authored Making the World Work Better, which IBM
published in connection with its centennial.
Labels: cognitive computing, ibm research, ibmwatson, John Kelly, Smarter Planet