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What do a 13 year old genius, melanoma detection and an #allmalepanel have in common?? – they all featured at the IBM Watson Summit, where I spent a sunny mid-winter afternoon this week. A well curated event that featured good food, a large and diverse crowd, varied and interesting speakers and fun activities like virtual reality experiences.

For me the best bit was spending time with friends and colleagues (like Francis Valintine who I spent the lunch break catching up with) engrossed in stimulating conversation about the changing nature of work, the future of education and one of the biggest insights from the day – medical industry disruption.

 

Tanmay Bakshi – 13 year old coding genius and public speaker

With his own YouTube channel, and long list of accomplishments this amazing kid put the audience to shame with his impact at aged 13 and goals for transforming the lives of others.

Opening with a video on The Cognitive Story – a project where he is collaborating with other coding geniuses and IBM to transform the lives of a severely disabled woman and her parents using Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cognitive Computing, and Neural Networks. The project is mapping signals from her brain and nervous system, applying pattern recognition and overlaying complex code to interpret her intentions or thoughts. Their test subject has no means of communication currently other than subtle movements her parents are intimately connected with and able to interpret. This project could transform the lives of so many and he speaks so very passionately (remembering this kid is 13) about the challenge and impact.

Mind-blowing stuff.

Melanoma Detection

Enhancements Cognitive Computing and AI can bring to the medical industry was a consistent theme of the IBM story. One early stage initiative is Lance O’Sullivan’s virtual medical centre project using image based diagnosis capabilities, currently via manual assessment (GP’s eyeball the images) and soon to be programatically enhanced with the first sift of an image assessed by a cognitive programme.

We also heard from NZ company MoleMap who are already employing technology to detect melanoma – there is a very extensive write up here on the BBC site. I find it fascinating how they trained the model to identify (from an image) whether a mole is worthy further investigation, track how it changes over time and other identifying characteristics the human eye can miss. This volume based programatic detection capability – like Lance O’Sullivan’s virtual medical centre – will materially disrupt the GP industry very soon.

#AllMalePanel

Awesome as the event was, in the 5 hours of speakers I only saw 2 women on stage. Even before the all male panel there was no mistaking we were at an event designed for the male dominated technology industry – attractive women holding up signs, loud rock music – so it was disappointing IBM were unable to compile a panel of amazing kiwi businesses without one woman involved.

The panel and businesses profiled were impressive with great kiwi export stories, so congratulation to IBM for having great local content. Congrats too on diversity of ethnicity and age. My issue is the lack of women on the agenda was amplified by the presence of only men in the keynote session panel. A company led by one of the most powerful women in the world can do better than this.

AI, Machine Learning, Cognitive

The changing nature of work is on it’s way to your industry and IBM did a good job of trying not to scare us while describing the role their super computing capability Watson will have. This event for me further exposed the disruption the medical industry is starting to realise and how rapidly.

I have written about this emerging capability before so if this space is new for you check out these blogs:

Final word for my team who love to rate conferences by the food – the food was excellent, vegan and gluten free options included. Happy sharing, Vic.

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