As I mentioned in my previous post, I am currently out at IBM Insight, and thought I would share some impressions of the event (see ECM – Rodney Dangerfield or “Intel Inside”?).
As an association guy, the Cognitive Computing/Watson keynote session caught my attention. Watson is now focusing on professions with a deep technical knowledge base and terminologies and technologies particular to that profession – a use case of particular interest to associations. Watson “has been learning the language of professions with the objective of democratizing information discovery and putting information in the hands of anyone who wants to use it.”
For those unfamiliar with Watson, it achieved its greatest fame during the competition with Ken Jennings and other human opponents on Jeopardy. What makes Watson cognitive? Three things: 1) it operates in natural language; 2) it makes evidence based recommendations; 3) it is not bound by volume, memory or format.
One profession-focused use case discussed focused on oncology. “Watson Oncology is a cognitive computing system designed to support the broader oncology community of physicians as they consider treatment options with their patients. Memorial Sloan Kettering clinicians and analysts are partnering with IBM to train Watson Oncology to interpret cancer patients’ clinical information and identify individualized, evidence-based treatment options that leverage our specialists’ decades of experience and research.”
This whole concept is a revolutionary one for professional associations to think about. Those of us in the association space have built our business models around being the trusted curator and validator of a body of knowledge linked to our particular profession. We continue to build much of this body of knowledge around manual processes and "association-ish" approaches that often haven't changed in decades.
This whole model is about to be disrupted. What does it mean to be the curator of rich technical expertise in an era of exploding volumes of information? What does it mean to be the information gatekeeper in a profession when so much new information is being developed beyond our control or beyond our traditional geographic reach or even beyond our awareness?
What is the role of cognitive computing for associations and professions in helping sustain our competency in an era of information abundance and chaos?