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IBM and MIT use brains for machine vision development

Steve Rogerson
September 22, 2016
 
IBM Research has started a multi-year collaboration with the Department of Brain & Cognitive Sciences (BCS) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to advance the scientific field of machine vision, a core aspect of artificial intelligence.
 
The IBM-MIT BM3C Laboratory for brain-inspired multimedia machine comprehension's goal will be to develop cognitive computing systems that emulate the human ability to understand and integrate inputs from multiple sources of audio and visual information into a detailed computer representation of the world that can be used in computer applications in industries such as healthcare, education and entertainment.
 
The BM3C will address technical challenges around both pattern recognition and prediction methods in the field of machine vision that are currently impossible for machines alone to accomplish. For instance, humans watching a short video of a real-world event can easily recognise and produce a verbal description of what happened in the clip as well as assess and predict the likelihood of various subsequent events, but for a machine this ability is currently impossible.
 
Beginning in this month in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the BM3C collaboration will bring together leading brain, cognitive and computer scientists to conduct research in the field of unsupervised machine understanding of audio-visual streams of data, using insights from next-generation models of the brain to inform advances in machine vision. The aim is that this integrated cross-disciplinary research will lead to advances that are likely to change both our personal and professional lives, from helping clinicians improve elderly and disabled care to helping organisations maintain and repair complex machinery as well as a host of cross-industry applications.
 
"In a world where humans and machines are working together in increasingly collaborative relationships, breakthroughs in the field of machine vision will potentially help us live healthier more productive lives," said Guru Banavar, chief scientist at IBM Research. "By bringing together brain researchers and computer scientists to solve this complex technical challenge, we will advance the state-of-the-art in AI with our collaborators at MIT."
 
The BM3C will be led by James DiCarlo, head of the BCS at MIT, who will be supported by a team of faculty members, researchers and graduate students from both the BCS and the MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab. MIT researchers will collaborate with IBM scientists and engineers who will provide technology expertise and advances from the IBM Watson platform.
 
"Our brain and cognitive scientists are excited to team up with cognitive computing scientists and engineers from IBM to achieve next-generation cognitive computing advances as exposed by next-generation models of the mind," said DiCarlo. "We believe that our fields are poised to make key advances in the very challenging domain of unassisted real-world audio-visual understanding and we are looking forward to this new collaboration."
 
Cognitive computing systems collaborate with human experts in natural ways, learn through this interaction, and help enable individuals and teams to make more informed decisions by making sense of massive amounts of unstructured data. Key to the success of these systems is research in machine learning and reasoning, machine vision, decision techniques, domain-specific knowledge understanding, data assurance and trust, and efficient computing infrastructures.
 
To this end, IBM Research has built a network of university research collaborations that put IBM researchers together with academic researchers in fields including computer science, engineering, and brain and cognitive science, to help make fundamental advances in AI. The goal is to apply the advances to domains such as health, education, law and business decisions. The network addresses the entire spectrum of cognitive computing capabilities from curating data and knowledge and developing new algorithms, to building the computing infrastructures needed to optimise the data-intensive workloads of a truly digital world.
 
IBM works with more than 250 universities to help teach courses in various cognitive computing disciplines. These courses offer students real-world case study learning experiences and access to Watson technology via the cloud. IBM also hosts university competitions, asking students to identify industry-specific challenges and providing support to commercialise their ideas.
 
Intel subsidiary Wind River has announced availability of the VxWorks real-time operating system client for the IBM Watson IoT platform. This is part of the IBM and Wind River collaboration to advance IoT deployments for industrial customers with edge-to-cloud recipes to simplify and accelerate the development of smart connected devices. This integration marks the first in a series of VxWorks clients for cloud service providers.
 
The client enables VxWorks-powered IoT devices to connect directly to the IBM Watson IoT platform. The client is based on the IBM Watson IoT SDK, and enables IoT developers to create devices using VxWorks that can leverage the IoT platform and IBM Bluemix cloud services.