NEW DELHI – The year 2017 is predicted to be that of artificial intelligence and machine learning, redefining the way humans communicate with devices to not only improve daily life but also boost businesses, even in India.

To make this happen, here comes IBM Watson – a cognitive system enabling a new partnership between people and computers.

Named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, the supercomputer combines AI and analytical software for optimal performance as a "question answering" machine that thinks like a human.

For IBM, cognitive is digital business plus digital intelligence. With Watson, people can analyze and interpret all of their data, including unstructured text, images, audio and video. They can provide personalized recommendations by understanding a user's personality, tone and emotion.

For Sriram Raghavan, Director at IBM research-India and CTO, IBM India, security in the context of cognitive is now a priority.

"There is a class of system that learns all the time. If you put a system primarily in an enterprise, for example customer services or health care, the system is not exposed to uncontrolled inputs and normal security measures," Raghavan told IANS during the "IBM cognitive studio demo showcase" event in the capital.

"But if you deploy a system in public where every piece of input the system takes, it not only responds to it but also there are chances that it changes its behavior – then an entire new layer of safety measures is needed," he added.

With Watson, you can utilize machine learning to grow the subject matter expertise in your apps and systems and create chat bots that can engage in dialogue.

"We are working with technologies that allow us to detect false input. The system can respond to such inputs but not change its behavior. You want cognitive to learn but, at the same time, you don't want it to change the behavior – that is what we have in our systems," Raghavan noted.

IBM Watson can not only make mocktails for you or design/choose a dress and predict weather, it can also help in precision agriculture or work as career adviser, teacher or even help in security intelligence.

At the event, IBM displayed several solutions that are already running in India in various fields.

For example, the Watson engine tells how much water is needed for a crop, when it will rain or what all can be done to increase the yield. The machine is able to do this without putting in numerous sensors and only by applying AI.

Global cyber security firm Symantec recently predicted that as businesses in India embrace digital transformation, enterprises would need to protect their data across all applications and services.

With Watson, IBM has managed to address this problem. The company is using cognitive capabilities to improve existing cyber systems.

A cyber attack takes place when someone develops a flaw in the system. An attack is produced overnight and by the time IT team responds, it is sometimes too late. "The only solution to prevent that is to monitor those conversations," Raghavan told IANS.

Earlier this year, IBM announced the "Watson for Cybersecurity" beta program that helps improve the security of an enterprise with Watson's real-world experience.

"The Watson continuously monitors and spots the new alerts coming from the outside. So, proactively, before an IT person takes action, Watson responds to the threat – thus improving cyber security," Raghavan noted.

The Watson power is not only limited to the software part. IBM has been able to harvest Watson's power for robotics that could assist enterprises in the near future.

IBM also showcased "Aero Assist" – a robot to assist immigration at airports – at the event. The robot pulls down the data from the Cloud and, within seconds, cross-checks passengers for necessary immigration action. Apart from giving a humanoid feedback, when idle, the robot even shakes a leg to a song.

Apart from robotics, Watson has been deployed in areas such as "Smart Gazer" that provides a platform for eye-gaze estimation and tracking, enabling cognitive human-computer interactions using the platform.

Other deployments are "Chef Watson" – a cognitive web app to inspire home cooks to create delicious meals; and "Twist Bar by Watson" (Cognitive Cocktail) – a stand-alone bar counter with two bartenders to make pre-selected cognitive mocktails.

The "Intelligent Operations Center" feature gives city managers an integrated view of the city's overall performance in priority areas and the "Security Intelligence next Sense Analytics" feature senses and acts on cyber threats.

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