I went to the cinema last week to check out the latest Marvel movie, Captain America: Civil War. I love Marvel movies. All of them. From Ironman through to The Guardians of the Galaxy and the series of Captain America films.
There’s something about superhero movies that belongs in the movies. They’re true ‘big screen’ films. Lots of explosions. Lots of special effects. Loud sound, fast paced action…what more could you want?
The other great thing about these superhero moves is how ridiculous they are. There are no superheros in real life. Alien attacks, Gods from other universes — none of it’s real.
But, what if some if it was real? What if in the real world the idea of being a superhero wasn’t all that crazy? I’m not exactly talking about a man that turns into an angry green monster. No, I’m talking more about the kind of superhero that Tony Stark is on screen. Where the convergence of technology with humanity creates something else…something superhuman.
The beginning of the real Marvel universe
If you could use a computer to be smarter, would you? If you could somehow combine the abilities of the machine with your own abilities, wouldn’t that help make things easier?
Did you answer ‘no’? If you did, you’re lying. We all use computers every day to be smarter. If just once in your life you went to Google to get an answer to something, then your answer should be ‘yes’.
Let’s face it, in today’s world we all use computers and machinery to be better. Whether that’s more efficient at work or simply more connected at home, it’s a fact of life.
Without computing and technology the human race would not be as advanced as we currently are. Fact.
Every year as computing tech gets better and faster we all lean on it a little harder. We’re already incredibly reliant on technology to function day to day. So it begs the question, how reliant can we get? At what point do we become so reliant on technology that we can’t function for ourselves anymore?
That’s the kind of question I get from people who are afraid of technological change. It’s a reasonable question to ask. I’ve even had my own Dad say to me on occasion, ‘You couldn’t function without your computer.’
He’s right…to a certain degree. We could all function without technology, but why would we want to? Is it really doing anyone substantial harm? I don’t think so.
Instead the approach should be to embrace technology. Embrace the idea of working with computers to be better. If we can do that then we have a chance of being superhuman. At least that’s the direction IBM [NYSE:IBM] wants us to go.
Speaking to Forbes, Vice President IBM Security, Caleb Barlow said, ‘It’s not about replacing humans, but about making them superhumans.’
Watson plus human makes things super
What was he talking about? He was talking about the new direction that IBM’s Watson platform is heading. He was talking about Watson’s ability to help a human be extraordinary, to be super.
If you’re not up to date with Watson then do a Google search… Seriously though, Watson is IBM’s artificial intelligence platform. It’s not true AI just yet, but it’s heading along a decent pathway there.
It’s better to call Watson a ‘cognitive’ computer. It has the ability to learn, to make it’s own decisions. It can act in a very similar way to a human being. But it’s not true AI.
IBM is committed to the Watson platform though. In early 2014 IBM put $1 billion into its development. They bet early on that cognitive computing was going to revolutionise the world. They were right.
Take for instance some of the companies using Watson to deliver world leading services.
Sesame Workshop (as in Sesame Street) is using Watson to help kids. With Watson they can create products that adapt to every child and their learning ability. It is specific to every kid because the products can ‘learn’.
Under Armour [NYSE:UA] is using Watson to gather personal fitness info. In their new app they collect immense amounts of data. Physical, behavioural, and nutritional data are just some of the data sets. It then develops a ‘personal trainer’ for the user. This is specific to each and every user.
Softbank Robotics offers a version of Watson for their ‘Pepper’ robots. As the press release from IBM explains a ‘Watson-powered Pepper’ will help to,
‘…make sense of the hidden meaning in data that traditional computers cannot comprehend — including social media, video, images and text. IBM Watson is the first open cognitive computing technology platform and represents a new era in computing where systems understand the world in the way that humans do: through senses, learning, and experience.’
Other industries where you can find Watson includes banking and healthcare. The power of the Watson is enormous.
Now it’s time for Watson to learn a new skill. IBM are making Watson the world’s best cyber defender.
Watson, the world’s best defence again hackers
IBM and eight universities will partner to create Watson for Cybersecurity. This will extend the cybersecurity knowledge of Watson. As IBM highlights in their press release,
‘Watson is learning the nuances of security research findings and discovering patterns and evidence of hidden cyber attacks and threats that could otherwise be missed.’
The universities will help ‘train’ Watson. They achieve this by feeding it huge data sets and security reports. Then Watson will learn on its own. It will learn how to identify and defend against cyber attacks.
IBM estimate there will be 1.5 million open cyber security jobs by 2020. They also predict this will lead to a huge skills shortage. With Watson on board, they hope the problem won’t be so bad.
Whether it’s cyber security or banking, Watson is a vision of the future. Except it’s happening now. It’s real, and it’s the next step in human advancement. With cognitive computing we can do things that we could never achieve on our own. With Watson we’ve all got a chance to be a little bit superhuman. A chance to be a real superhero.