The TED Institute micro-documentary on Project SyNAPSE gave us a look at the future of cognitive computing, with glimpses at some
possible practical applications. Those exciting possibilities become positively
exhilarating in the Project Lucy micro-documentary, which gives us an idea of
the potential for cognitive computing to transform a continent.
The project is a collaboration between IBM researchers in Africa and the company’s business and academic partners
to apply IBM Watson to the continent’s biggest
challenges. The goal is to use Watson to discover insights from big data and
develop commercially viable solutions in the areas of energy, healthcare, water
and sanitation, agriculture, human mobility and education.
It is this last area that is the particular focus of IBM researcher
Dr. Charity Wayua. In the film, the Kenya-based Wayua lays out the ambitions
for cognitive computing to give teachers greater ability to deal with crowded
classrooms. Armed with data-based insights, teachers can address needs and
situations on a student-by-student basis.
While Africa’s challenges are
daunting, it is far from the only place where classrooms are overcrowded,
teachers are overstretched, and children are underserved. The potential impact
on Africa’s education systems is awesome to
contemplate, and it’s easy to see how the benefits could be replicated around
the globe. Add in the other challenges Project Lucy is tackling and the
potential for cognitive computing to improve the lives of millions becomes even
“For the African continent,”
said Wayua, “I think this is going to be our 'big bet' on transformation.” If
that big bet pays off, it won’t just transform Africa,
it will transform the world.
Editor's note: This article is by Jonathan Batty, external relations leader for IBM's global labs.
Labels: cognitive computing, ibm research - Africa, IBM Watson, project lucy, TEDatIBM