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Rob High talks Artificial Intelligence with Gigaom

Rob High

Rob High is an IBM Fellow, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, IBM Watson. He has overall responsibility to drive Watson technical strategy and thought leadership. As a key member of the Watson Leadership team, Rob works collaboratively with the Watson engineering, research, and development teams across IBM.

Rob High will be speaking at Gigaom Change Leaders Summit in Austin, September 21-23rd. In anticipation of that, I caught up with him to ask a few questions.

Byron Reese: Tell me the first time you ever heard about Nanotechnology?

Rob High: Cognitive technologies, like Watson, apply reasoning techniques to domain-specific problems in things like Healthcare, Finance, Education, and Legal -- anywhere there is an overwhelming amount of information that, if processed, can substantially improve the decisions or outcomes in that domain. For example, the work we've done with Oncologists to help them identify the most appropriate treatments for their cancer patients is based on having assessed what makes the patient unique; standard of care practices and clinical expertise that has been used to train the system; and the available clinical literature that can help doctors make better decisions. This helps to democratize that expertise to a wide swath of other doctors who do not have the benefit of having seen the thousands of patients that major cancer centers like Memorial Sloan Kettering or MD Anderson see.

The types of artificial intelligence used in these systems are spectacular in that they are able draw inferences from literature written in natural language, and to be taught how to interpret the meaning in that language as it applies to bringing the right information at the right time to the doctor's fingertips. Unlike Artificial General Intelligence, our goal is to amplify human cognition -- not to do our thinking for us, but to do the necessary research so that we can do our thinking better.

What do you make of all of the angst and concern being talked about in terms of why we should perhaps fear the AGI?

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Artificial Intelligence, and its impact on business, will be one of seven topic areas covered at the Gigaom Change Leader's Summit in September in Austin. Join us.

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