IBM launches plan to bring cognitive systems to Africa

IBM (NYSE: IBM) said it has launched a 10-year initiative to bring Watson and other cognitive systems to Africa in a bid to fuel development and spur business opportunities across the world´s fastest growing continent.

Dubbed “Project Lucy” after the earliest known human ancestor, IBM will invest USD100m in the initiative, giving scientists and partners access to the world´s most advanced cognitive computing technologies.

IBM´s Watson represents a new era of cognitive computing, in which systems and software are not programmed, but actually improve by learning so they can discover answers to questions and uncover insights by analyzing massive amounts of Big Data.

Watson technologies will be deployed from IBM´s new Africa Research laboratory providing researchers with a powerful set of resources to help develop commercially-viable solutions in key areas such as healthcare, education, water and sanitation, human mobility and agriculture.

To help fuel the cognitive computing market and build an ecosystem around Watson, IBM will also establish a new pan-African Center of Excellence for Data-Driven Development (CEDD) and is recruiting research partners such as universities, development agencies, start-ups and clients in Africa and around the world. By joining the initiative, IBM´s partners will be able to tap into cloud-delivered cognitive intelligence that will be invaluable for solving the continent´s most pressing challenges and creating new business opportunities.

By establishing the pan-African Center for Data-Driven Development (CEDD), IBM will leverage the latest Watson cognitive technologies to provide its research partners with access to high-frequency and better organized data. This will enable scientists and analysts to more accurately calculate social and economic conditions and identify previously unseen correlations across multiple domains. Through the Project Lucy initiative, partners will be able to tap into IBM´s unparalleled expertise in cognitive computing across its 12 global laboratories and new Watson business unit. Through CEDD they will gain access to the resources, tools and knowledge-based services necessary for developing cognitive computing innovations.

Named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, IBM Watson was developed in IBM´s Research labs. Using natural language processing and analytics, Watson processes information akin to how people think, representing a major shift in an organization´s ability to quickly analyze, understand and respond to Big Data.

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