Humans and Computers

by Julian Westaby.

At the recent April Communications Breakfast, which marked the event’s 3rd Birthday we were joined by guest speaker Douglas McGarrie of IBM.

Douglas, IBM’s CTO and Technical Leader in Scotland covered the subject ‘Humans and Computers’.  Computer systems are now being developed to interact with human beings in new and interesting ways and we wanted to find out how.  This new technology is known as ‘Cognitive Computing’ – which is about a machine using techniques so it can ‘think’ like humans and understand natural language.  Because computers can cope with human complexities this enables people to make better decisions in areas such as health, education and finance.

Douglas then explained that IBM has developed it’s own cognitive computing system called ‘Watson’, which was recently put to the test on the US game show ‘Jeopardy!’ Watson was pitched against two serial quizmasters who have a track record on the game show and it was able to beat both of them because it thought and behaved like a human brain – “scary thought!”

There are several examples of how these systems are being applied to real world situations and across many industries, and Douglas had a couple of intriguing videos on hand to demonstrate this.

It’s a very exciting new world of technology and is a far step from ‘Programmatic Computing’ – traditional IT we have all come to know and use over the last few decades.

Given Douglas has spent time in leading technology countries such as the US we really did get the latest ‘low down’ on this new emerging world of cognitive computing that we can all benefit from in the years to come.

Find out more about Watson

Thank you to everyone who completed our survey during the event, we have had some great suggestions for future topics and we will publish your feedback soon.  Congratulations to Lynne Last of National Australia Group who won the champagne in the prize draw – Cheers!

Pictures courtesy of Great Scot photography