IBM Takes Step to Give Itself and Watson a Software Brain

April 11, 2015

Two observations to begin:

  1. MIT Technology Review recycles quite a bit of IBM marketing fluff. I now rely on the publication to keep me up to date on IBM’s floundering. Good stuff. Is there a flow of staff between IBM PR and the magazine?
  2. IBM continues to generate news which is designed to make the company seem to be the cutting edge outfit it once was. At least, the most recent development does not involve barbeque recipes with tamarind or revolutionizing medical treatment. That’s a welcome change, right, Watson?

I read “IBM Tests Mobile Computing Pioneer’s Controversial Brain Algorithms.” When I read the headline, I remembered that IBM has positioned its mainframes as mobile computing platforms. Well, I suppose doing the brain in math thing requires considerable computing horsepower. But will it work? Who knows? Certainly not the editors at dear old MIT Technology Review.

According to the write up:

IBM has established a research group to work on Numenta’s learning algorithms at its Almaden research lab in San Jose, California. The algorithms are being tested for tasks including interpreting satellite imagery, and the group is working on designs for computers that would implement Hawkins’s ideas in hardware. Hawkins says that around 100 people are working on the project, known internally as the Cortical Learning Center.

I quite like that “cortical” word. It sounds like important. Please, vocalize this statement with vocal fry.

IBM is in the midst of machine learning, artificial intelligence, and smart software. The write up points out that lots of companies are working hard to find ways to create smart software.

Numenta and probably the Cortical crowd want to find a middle way, a bit like the Great Compromiser except in digital form. The approach is not to make a system too simple. The approach is not to make a system too complex. IBM, like the children’s story, wants to make a brain in software just right.

Stay tuned, but if the software works, IBM’s revenues and profits and even its stock price may show some signs of life.

The life may be artificial, but life is life. Watson, isn’t life life? Where’s my Treo? Watson, Watson, do you know Mary Had a Little Lamp?

Stephen E Arnold, April 11, 2015


One Response to “IBM Takes Step to Give Itself and Watson a Software Brain”

  1. Radlett Estate Agents on April 28th, 2015 1:45 am

    After I initially commented I seem to have clicked the -Notify
    me when new comments are added- checkbox and now whenecer a comment is aeded I recieve four emails with the exact same comment.
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