Cloud based Cognitive Learning Systems

August 21, 2015 § Leave a comment

This morning, like every morning, I started my day off with Lumosity brain training. Lumosity is an online brain training and neuroscience research company based in San Francisco. Lumosity has a brain training platform consisting of games in the areas of memory, attention, flexibility, speed of processing, and problem solving. Today, I was excited to see a new game “Editor’s Choice” included in my training options. The game is focused on “Verbal Fluency” challenging the user  to rapidly retrieve words associated with various categories from their mental vocabulary. Needless to say, very entertaining and mentally stimulating at 5:30am. The game reminded me of a customer conversation from earlier in the week that focused on what IBM Watson is doing from a cognitive learning perspective. I commented that (we) IBM had just rolled out Watson to Deakin University’s (50,000) students. Over time, students who ask Watson a question can expect tailored information, personalized advice and information based on their individual profile. As one of the 70 million members of Lumosity, I have to think we IBM Watson have a tremendous opportunity to deliver personalized advise, education, and continuous learning options to every student, parent, employee, patient, and citizen globally. The illustration below provides a glimpse into the future of the classroom. In five years, the classroom will be anywhere and everywhere we are! That very exciting when you think about a world population that exceeded 7.3 billion people as of July 1, 2015.

5 in 5 Storymap: The Classroom Will Learn You | by IBM Research

Ramp up on Bluemix

August 20, 2015 § Leave a comment

I recently attended a Bluemix developer training session at Galvanize in San Francisco. I started my career 28 years ago as a software developer but I haven’t written code in more than 20 years and the languages I used were COBOL, Pascal, and then C and Smalltalk so I had a ways to go. When explaining the coding I was going to do with my golf buddy, he equated it to his travels to South America where he understands enough Spanish to get by but not enough to carry on an intelligent conversation, and that about sums up my current coding experience – understanding enough to see what’s happening when looking at code but not enough to develop code on my own.

The intent of the Galvanize training was to give a sense of what developers would experience today and it definitely hit the mark. During the class we learned and used Agile concepts including pair programming. Prior to the training I was aware of pair programming but hadn’t seen it work to its fullest; the activities we undertook in the training helped to highlight the advantages. I had dug into Bluemix some but not to the level covered during the training and it gave me a much more complete appreciation for what we’re providing to developers. I understood the benefits such as integrated DevOps before the training, but the activities gave a much clearer view of the ease and speed to compose applications leveraging existing services and fairly minor configuration updates. I got to see firsthand a number of Bluemix services, including a few from Watson, and saw how easy it is to create interesting applications.

I had a great experience at the training (and San Francisco is a fun city), but the best aspect for me was the great networking opportunity by being face-to-face with other Cloud Advisors and Bluemix Garage developers. The intent wasn’t to turn us into hard-core developers in a week (and I’m certainly not at that level), but it met its target of providing a much deeper view of Bluemix and a developer’s view of it. The Galvanize training is part of the Cloud Advisor curriculum but even if you’re not a Cloud Advisor I think it’s a great opportunity to learn more about Bluemix and its impact on developers.

Watson for Medical Images

August 14, 2015 § Leave a comment


IBM’s recent announcement to purchase Merge Healthcare bringing together Watson’s advanced image analytics and cognitive capabilities with Merge’s data set containing 30 billion images is truly exciting from a healthcare perspective. Earlier this year, Watson was learning how to recognize anomalies of images: melanoma, breast cancer, and cardiovascular blockages. At that time, Watson had already ingested 45 million images. With medical images being the largest and fastest growing data source in the healthcare industry (some 400 million procedures a year in the U.S. involve at least one medical image) IBM Watson finds itself in a unique position to address the transformational challenges facing healthcare globally.

IBM plans to leverage the Watson Health Cloud to analyze and cross-reference medical images against lab results, electronic health records, genomic tests, clinical studies, and other health related data sources, already representing 315 billion data points and 90 million unique records. The Watson Health unit also plans to bring together Merge’s products and solution offerings with existing expertise in cognitive computing, population health, and cloud based healthcare intelligence offerings to:

  • Offer researchers insights to aid clinical trial design, monitoring, and evaluations
  • Help clinicians to efficiently identify options for the diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of a broad array of health conditions such as cancer, stroke, and heart disease
  • Enable providers and payers to integrate and optimize patient engagement in alignment with meaningful use and value based care guidelines
  • Support researchers and healthcare professionals as they advance the emerging discipline of population health, which aims to optimize an individuals care by identifying trends in  larger numbers of people with similar heath conditions

The acquisitions of Explorys, Phytel, and Merge Healthcare combined with IBM Watson present the healthcare and life sciences industries with some very exciting options moving forward! I look forward to posting again on our progress in September.

IBM’s Watson in Fantasy Football!

August 13, 2015 § 1 Comment

IBM’s Watson Can Now Help You Kick Ass In Fantasy Football

With football season just around the corner – I wanted to repost the following IBM Watson article by Daniel Terdiman. Enjoy!

Big Blue’s cognitive computing platform is being integrated into a new app from Edge Up Sports to provide deep fantasy football analysis.

Looking for a little competitive edge in your fantasy football league this year? How about a little help from IBM’s Watson?

Today, IBM announced it has teamed up with Edge Up Sports, a company that provides analysis for hard-core fantasy sports players, on an app that could help you dominate your league.

Watson is best known as the computer system that autonomously vanquished the world’s best Jeopardy players during a highly publicized competition in 2011. In the years since then, IBM has applied the system to a wide range of computing problems in industries like health care, banking, retail, and education. The system is based on Watson’s ability to understand natural language queries and analyze huge data sets.

In recent weeks, IBM has rolled out new Watson tools that could help you see, help city residents get better services, and even moderate the tone of your writing.

According to Big Blue, there are more than 33 million regular fantasy football players, many of whom devote hours every week for months during the NFL’s season studying the performances of the players on their teams.

Thanks to Watson’s integration with the Edge Up Sports app, IBM said, fantasy football players will now be able to dig deeper into the minutiae of the sport and find hidden nuggets of information that should help them outperform their rivals, and save a lot of time in the process.

Edge Up has developed tools that track things like NFL players’ Twitter activity, coaching statistics, and articles by leading football writers, all of which could add more arrows to fantasy players’ quivers. By adding Watson to the equation, IBM wrote in a release, the Edge Up app “will access and analyze ever-growing volumes and sources of football and player-related data to generate evidence-based recommendations.”

In other words, the app could help you crush your friends.

Among the factors the Watson-powered app will analyze are football players’ physical and mental condition, as well as their injury histories, how analysts view them, how weather affects them, how well they play on grass or turf, how they perform against key opponents, and more.

Given that the NFL is one of the most scrutinized sports leagues on the planet, there are countless data points to analyze, IBM said, and more are being added every day. All that data is more than most fantasy players can handle on their own, but with the Edge Up app, IBM argued, players should be able to digest it all in less time than they’re used to spending on fantasy football.

Edge Up also launched a Kickstarter campaign today, aiming to raise $35,000 to continue developing its app. Those who contribute to the campaign will get early access to the app and, IBM argues, more ammunition to use against their fantasy league adversaries.

IBM Bluemix Garage

August 13, 2015 § Leave a comment

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the IBM Bluemix Garage and Galvanize in San Francisco. It was impressive to see how the IBM Garage is taking a lean user-centered approach to empowering enterprises and entrepreneurs to rapidly identify, prove, design, and build cloud applications for their target markets with IBM Cloud technologies. Currently, IBM Bluemix Garages are located in San Francisco, London, and Toronto with further expansion planned in Nice, France and Melbourne, Australia later this year. The garages offer a number of innovative ways to engage clients and start-ups at all stages of their development lifecycle. I have included an illustration that highlights the offerings below:


Also, IBM is pioneering the concept of a pop-up garages with clients in various cities like Berlin, Tokyo, New York, and others. IBM teams are going into these cities, doing Innovation & Design workshops with clients, and starting full engagements with customers delivering immediate value, flexibility, and results. These teams are comprised of consultants, developers, and designers who travel and work with clients in their own cities. In closing, make plans to visit one of the garages in San Francisco, London, or Toronto – it’s well worth the trip!    

Using OpenStack Trove for On-Premise DBaaS

August 7, 2015 § Leave a comment

One of the basic elements of cloud computing is flexibility in deploying resources as needed within hours if not minutes. With database as a service (DBaaS), the concept of flexible deployment extended to non-infrastructure elements of the stack including software. While there are already numerous DBaaS providers which host multiple types of databases off premises, the question of on premises database deployment for cloud infrastructure has been answered more so by patterns or images which require a decent amount of configuration before a working database image is available for end users. In addition to the pre-deployment work, on-going database monitoring requires some understanding of the underlying VM (i.e. how to scale or network with other VMs for clustering) which may defeat the purpose of a DBaaS for users who didn’t want to worry about the infrastructure to begin with.

OpenStack Trove Architecture Overview « Read the rest of this entry »

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