Sunday, February 16, 2014

I'm not the brain behind IBM's Watson cognitive system recently announced in Africa

My intellectual integrity pushes me to respond to some false statements that appeared in the media and social media recently about my contribution to Watson, the IBM Cognitive System that was recently announced in Africa.
After 25 years of career at IBM, I still consider myself an IBMer in my heart. So when my friends at the IBM Research lab in Nairobi told me about the Watson announcement for Africa, I was really excited as a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Rwanda and proud as an ex-IBMer. As they asked me if I would agree to speak with the media about the importance of that announcement, I gladly agreed to do so. As a result I have been quoted in the official IBM press release.
I was then interviewed by several journalists and I have further been quoted in more media. I have the greatest respect for the journalist job, and I know for having worked with them the pressure and stress they have to deliver information in time, or even before time as it is the rule of the media game. And as a result it happens that they may misquote you sometimes, and it happened with one of them for the Watson announcement. Again I have no quarrel with the jounalist but I need to put the record straight.
During that particular interview (which happened late at night), the journalist asked me what I knew about Watson. I told him that the Watson project started at the same time I was working at IBM Research and that I knew about it because at that time I participated in some information and discussion meetings about it, but that was my only "contribution" to it.
When translated in the published paper, it became "Michel B├ęzy, a Rwanda-based technology professor who helped develop the Watson system." That is a misrepresentation of what I said, as my contribution was insignificant, I was just one of many who discussed about the project at the very beginning of it.
But then, social media take over, and now someone tweeted that " Prof Bezy from CMU-Rwanda is the brain behind the IBM's new flagship system for African markets". This is totally innacurate and is why I post this correction.
First I have not contributed to Watson while I was in IBM and I am not the brain behind it. Second if any contribution it would have been during my work at IBM, not as a professor at CMU-Rwanda.
Again I have no grievance against any of the authors of these statements, I just needed to put the records straight.

Seeya later alligator...


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