Throughout time, the origin of many modern-day technologies can be traced to the military and Defense Research Projects Agency (DARPA). For example, DARPA, or ARPA, as it was called at the time, played a central role in launching the Information Revolution. The agency developed and furthered much of the conceptual basis for the ARPANET—a prototypical communications network launched nearly half a century ago—and invented the digital protocols that gave birth to the modern-day Internet. DARPA also provided many of the essential advances that made today’s computers and communications systems possible, including seminal technological achievements that support speech recognition, touch-screen displays, accelerometers, and wireless capabilities at the core of today’s smartphones and tablets.
After Charles Herzfeld, the Director of ARPA, gave his blessing to commence the first stage of the ARPANET project, he began circulating the plan to some of ARPA’s contractors. The initial reaction to the ARPANET was one of suspicion. “Most of the people I talked to were not initially enamoured with the idea,” said Bob Taylor director of the ARPANET project for Herzfeld. “Many feared that a network would create an opportunity for someone else to come in and use their [computing] cycles”.
DARPA’s efforts in this domain remained focused primarily on military operations, including command and control, but although faced with initial skepticism, the commercial sector has adopted and expanded upon many of the agency’s results to develop wide-spread applications in fields as diverse as manufacturing, entertainment and education. In essence, today’s Internet or digital age, was built off DARPAs initial thinking.
This paradigm of the military and innovations related to national security informing modern day technology is nothing new, but an excellent prism perhaps through which to view the current AI and machine learning revolution. Just as ARPA was faced with wide spread doubt and fear about how an interconnected world would not lead to a dystopian society, IBM, among the top leaders in the provision of augmented intelligence, is faced with similar challenges amidst today’s machine learning revolution.
As AI stands ready to disrupt every industry, and life as we know it in general, the need for mass understanding and adoption of the technology, in lieu of fear and disdain, has never been greater. Critical to the advancement of a world where machines don’t replace man, but rather augment their capabilities, will be the ability to make the experience of AI accessible to key leaders and tastemakers. If top business visionaries can understand its power and then go apply it in ways that demonstrate AI’s incredible mettle, we will be alot closer to harnessing the technology’s awesome potential in helping us inch closer to a tomorrow that is better than today.
IBM’s experience at the 2017 U.S. Open, a sporting event that attracts the upper echelon from many walks of life, was a terrific step in the right direction. This year, IBM enlisted its IBM Watson Media platform to determine the best highlights of matches. IBM then broadcasted the event live to its mobile app, using IBM Watson Media to watch for match highlights as they happened. It took into account crowd noises, emotional player reactions, and other factors to determine the best highlight of a match.
“One of the unique things about the IBM Watson Media platform that I surmised - as a longtime partner of IBM Research, and having worked on machine vision models for over 4 years, is the unique nature of how they are implementing supervised models with use case in mind,” said Micah Brown, CEO of Centiment, a leading neuroscience company focused on harnessing cognitive technologies, like IBM Watson, to empower the emotional intelligence brands are seeking today. “When I visited the control center and got an opportunity to deeply question IBM engineers on the development of this technology, it became clear that in developing this, they trained not just on large amounts of data that was specific to the task, but that their model was designed so that it can scale for other use cases. In my opinion, it’s what differentiates this technology from the suite of other IBM Products, and even some competitors on the market.”
The U.S. Open used one of the first solutions available through IBM Watson Media, called Cognitive Highlights. Developed at IBM Research with IBM iX, Cognitive Highlights was able to identify a match’s most important moments by analyzing statistical tennis data, sounds from the crowd, and player reactions using both action and facial expression recognition. The system then ranked the shots from seven U.S. Open courts and auto-curated the highlights, which simplified the video production process and ultimately positioned the USTA team to scale and accelerate the creation of cognitive highlight packages.
While to the untrained eye this technology display was nothing more than an augmented sporting event experience, it was a good harbinger for ahead-of-the-curve marketers and other senior executives, to begin to glean the powerful application this cognitive technology can have for the global business landscape. As our experience economy continues to take shape with customers across all categories voting with their wallets based on a brand’s ability to display the why and the who behind products and services as much as the what, technologies that can offer solutions to deliver emotionally engaging experiences have never been more important.
Just as the fundamentals of the ARPANET project informed the modern-day Internet, it is not hard to imagine how the fundamentals powering what seems to be pie-in-the-sky AI solutions, will, in a very short period of time, instigate seismic changes in every sector. Key to the success of this sea change will be the ability for leading AI providers to customize these solutions to make them directly relevant to specific scenarios, while also staying agilely informed on the emotional intelligence required to not only compete, but win, in each one.
Billee has a strategic vision for how brands can differentiate themselves from their competition through the lens of purpose and by harnessing storytelling as a business competency. Additionally, she believes that brands can best poise themselves for the future by having the entire C-Suite embrace the power of cognitive technologies.