Tech. Who knows its frontiers and where we will be in the future?

Tech. Who knows its frontiers and where we will be (or what we will be) in the future? But our tech of today came from humble beginnings. Most people recognise Charles Babbage, a mathematician, scientist and engineer from the 1800s, as the “father of the computer” and his Analytical Engine which he envisaged, contained all the essential ideas of modern computers. Ada Lovelace, an English writer and mathematician, was the first person to recognise the fact that Babbage’s proposed Analytical Engine could have applications beyond pure calculation. She published her algorithm between 1840 and 1842 and today she is regarded as one of the first computer programmers. Unfortunately, Babbage’s engine was never completed and her program never tested.

IBM, today a giant technology player, started off as a company that produced punched card-based tabulating systems, time clocks and other automated business transactions. Its first experiments with computers were in the 1940s and 1950s. Its new System/360 mainframe computers of the 1960s was a breakthrough for the company which led to it becoming one of the world’s most admired companies, visionaries and systems integrators. 

One of IBM’s most innovative projects is Watson. It’s an AI computer system designed to answer questions posed to it in a natural language. The system has 2 880 POWER7 processor threads and 16 terabytes of RAM. Watson rose to fame when it competed and won in the American television game show “Jeopardy!”. Ken Jennings, a Jeopardy! champion, afterwards remarked “I for one welcome our new computer overlords” and later wrote an article in which he stated “IBM has bragged to the media that Watson’s question-answering skills are good for more than annoying Alex Trebek (the Jeopardy! host). The company sees a future in which fields like medical diagnosisbusiness analytics, and tech support are automated by question-answering software like Watson. Just as factory jobs were eliminated in the 20th century by new assembly-line robots, Brad (another Jeopardy! champion) and I were the first knowledge-industry workers put out of work by the new generation of ‘thinking’ machines. ‘Quiz show contestant’ may be the first job made redundant by Watson, but I’m sure it won’t be the last.”

Commercially, Watson has already contributed in many fields such as healthcare, education, music, water conservation, audience influencing, weather forecasting and fashion (to name a few). The advances in AI is progressing rapidly and we should all prepare for a future integrated with AI solutions like Watson.

One last thought. If Siri and Bixby is greeted with “Hi”, will we one day greet Watson with “My Dear”? I think the answer is elementary. 

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