The quantum computing race the US can’t afford to lose – TNW

Quantum computing has ushered in a new area of information technology. An international arms race to develop quantum computers has steadily grown more competitive and more critical.

China reached the early pole position by unveiling the world’s first quantum communication landline connecting Beijing with Shanghai like no two other cities in history. The first quantum encrypted Skype call was also made, that same day, by the Chinese. It was only possible because of the world’s first quantum satellite, known as Micius.

It’s clear that quantum technology promises to usher in a new era of computing. And other countries are already staking their claim, vying to be the nation that ultimately emerges as the world leader.

Cybersecurity in the crosshairs

Beyond its image as a booster for communications, quantum computing also poses a very real threat to data protection with its proven ability to quickly crack most codes.

Only the lack of large scale quantum computers is holding back the ability to shred today’s encryption. And both criminals and nation-states are capturing as much encrypted data as they can now, with the expectation that quantum computers will eventually be able to crack current protections.

China and other nations are investing heavily in research and development for quantum computers as well as technology that could, theoretically, prevent hacking by quantum supercomputers. If the United States fails to develop a similarly strong quantum infrastructure, all of today’s protected data could be at risk.

This includes military data that would directly impact operational security (OPSEC), which is the critical communications in any military mission.

While OPSEC is one major potential vulnerability, other systems could be targeted. The financial and medical sectors come to mind. Both industries play pivotal roles in American life and have access to important data.

A sufficiently advanced quantum computer could theoretically decrypt and break into a mass of bank accounts or patient records in very little time.

Quantum technology requires investment

Spending on technology across the board is projected to grow over the next few years as computing advances. The United States Department of Defense has requisitioned $899 million for computer science research. While this research focuses largely on quantum computing, the requested amount is only .000046% of the total gross domestic product (GDP).

Meanwhile, China is investing much more heavily in quantum computing. While their exact government spending is unknown, a new research laboratory costing approximately $10 billion was recently built in China for the express purpose of researching quantum technology.

The total amount being spent by the Chinese government dwarfs the investment by the United States, and that deficit does not appear to close over the next five to ten years.

In order to keep a secure infrastructure, the United States must prioritize the digital space. The digital theater is likely the next major area of operations as countries try to grab sensitive information.

A situation like this was mentioned in Tom Clancy’s excellently researchedThreat Vector. In the book, the Chinese use superior technology to disrupt American businesses and pilfer sensitive documents. It’s not unlike what could very well be happening right now in anticipation of quantum computing advances.

The dangers of second place

While Threat Vector is fiction, there are some harsh realities facing the United States should it fail to remain competitive in this critical area. Beyond the obvious theft of sensitive data and mission critical secrecy is the loss of jobs or potential jobs as quantum computing is developed and designed offshore.

For the United States to remain at the cutting edge, it will need to create it’s own quantum network to allow for unbreakable lines of secure communication, like what is happening in China.

We are also in vital need of quantum-proof encryption such as Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) that can be applied as soon as possible. Our most critical data needs to be safe from future quantum computers and their expected ability to more easily crack today’s encryption.

American companies like Microsoft, Intel, Google, IBM,and others are conducting research and development into quantum technologies, but will likely require assistance from the government. After all, government backing has been at the root of most technical marvels of everyday life such as microchips, GPS, touch screens, Google’s search engine and the Internet.

The biggest competitor within quantum computing is China, which is likely the world’s frontrunner, but there are others. Russia is also pushing the boundaries. Spearheaded by the Russian Quantum Center, Russia announced a breakthrough by designing a quantum computer that can reliably solve basic computations faster than anything else today.

Even North Korea has stated that they intend to develop quantum computers. While it’s unknown how much North Korea has invested in this program, the fact that they are tossing their hat in the ring is troubling.

The United States can’t afford to come in second in the global quantum arms race, especially to any country that has been adversarial or downright antagonistic in the past.

In a quantum world, the speeds are so fast and the numbers so large, that second place really doesn’t mean very much. There is the leader in quantum computing, and then there is everyone else.

The United States has an incredible ability to compete on the world stage in anything. The effort just needs the proper investment, manpower and directive. Quantum computing is a race where we can compete, and one that we absolutely must win.

SiW rises from the ashes of Stamford Tech Week – Westfair Online

Calling All Drones and Chatbots – Transmission and Distribution World

State briefs for Sept. 1 –

Conference speakers will include Gene Nora Jessen, original member of the Mercury 13 testing program for female astronauts; Michelle Millben, former White House adviser; and Carolyn Rodz, founder of Alice, an AI-based business accelerator in partnership with Dell. Panel discussions will focus on the impacts of women on scientific fields, policy and society, and startups around the state and will feature prominent tech founders, biotechnology experts, social entrepreneurs, meteorologists and political activists.

A pre-conference reception will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 13 at Science Museum Oklahoma. Registration is $30, or free for teachers, students or university faculty with valid identification. Go to for more information.



South Texas College Celebrates Its First 25 Years – Valley Town Crier

A look back at why the college was created & how it continues to deliver on its promise

As a young teen, current STC Trustee Rose Benavidez recalls traveling with her father, the late Manuel Benavidez, across Starr County looking for support for what was then known as South Texas Community College (STCC) from the community.

Her father had just been appointed as a trustee for the college, and in the summer of 1995, public acceptance for STCC had snowballed, capitulating in an election that saw voters approve three propositions that were essential for the college.

“When I was a kid driving around with my father I remember they were having classes in laundromats or they were allowed by school districts to have classes in old libraries,” Benavidez said. “I can recall my very first experience with the college was when I was maybe 15 years old. My father had just been appointed as a trustee at the college and they were going out for their first bond.

“Funny enough, the first bond that passed was when my father was the chairperson of the Board of Trustees, and this last bond (2013) occurred when I was the chairperson of the Board,” Benavidez said. “It was pretty amazing to see people come out and support that initiative, but far beyond the brick and mortar is the impact and the change in the people of our community and the whole Valley for that matter.”

The creation of STC sprung from the compelling need to improve access to higher education in Hidalgo and Starr Counties.

In the spring of 1993, as legislation was being drafted to create what was then known as South Texas Community College (STCC), the college began distributing flyers for the new institution urging students to “test their wings” and apply as early as possible.

In June 1993, then Texas Gov. Ann Richards signed legislation creating South Texas Community College. At the time, STCC was the 50th community college in Texas and the first in the Upper Valley. The college was created by the Texas Legislature, converting the former Texas State Technical College campus in McAllen into a locally-governed community college serving Hidalgo and Starr Counties.

“I had the passion, the commitment, and the tenacity to say ‘by God, we’re going to do this,” said STC President Dr. Shirley A Reed. “That passion and commitment haven’t changed. When you look at the level of poverty in the Valley, and the number of individuals who haven’t even had an opportunity to finish high school, much less go to college, and then you think about the quality of their lives, it becomes clear there is no end to the work that needs to be done in the Valley.”

South Texas College was created on Sept. 1, 1993, by Texas Senate Bill 251 to serve Hidalgo and Starr Counties. Gov. Richards signed legislation creating South Texas College and was the only community college in Texas to have been established by the Texas Legislature because of the compelling need to improve access to higher education in Hidalgo and Starr.

STCC opened its doors that September and classes began with 1,058 students. The McAllen Memorial High School band provided music for the opening for the college.

Since that time, STC has seen steady growth in its student enrollment starting with 1,058 students in 1993 to more than 34,000 students by fall 2017.

“We have seen a tremendous growth,” said Trustee Dr. Alejo Salinas, who joined the college on the Board in 1996. “We have grown so much. It is incredible. I can remember when I started with the college we maybe had 1,000 students now we are over 30,000. That speaks for the college itself.

“To see friends, family and ex-students come through our programs and to see them graduate has been a very satisfying experience,” Dr. Salinas said. “To hear the feedback from those who have come here, and how full of pride they are with the education they have received, that’s a very rewarding experience for me. It provides me with plenty of reason for wanting to be a part of this college.”

According to the Texas Workforce Commission, since the College’s creation in 1993, unemployment in Hidalgo County has reduced from 24.1 percent to 11.3 percent and from 40.3 percent to 15.6 percent in Starr County.

“From what we have seen, and just the impact on the education on the sheer number of students who are here, it translates not only to the numbers we have but also the number of families we have impacted because of students receiving their certificate or degree,” said former Trustee Graciela Farias. “Having the whole region benefit in such a positive manner because of what South Texas College has been able to do will continue for all of our students. The sky is the limit for South Texas College.”

STC offers more than 120 degree and certificate program options including associate degrees in art, science, technology and allied health fields. The college also offers 18 online associate degrees and certificate options through South Texas College Online enabling students to earn their degrees without even setting foot on campus.

Today, the college ranks second in the nation for total enrollment of Hispanics among two and four-year schools in 2015, according to Hispanic Outlook (HO) on Education Magazine. The magazine published its “Top 100 Colleges and Universities for Hispanics” with data collected from the 2015 school year. In that issue, numerous programs at STC placed among the top-10 in schools across the nation for degrees awarded to Hispanics.

STC is also one of only three community colleges in Texas accredited to offer applied baccalaureate degrees. A Bachelor of Applied Technology (BAT) degree in Technology Management, Computer and Information Technologies, Medical and Health Services Management and a degree in Organizational Leadership may all be attained at STC.

“It has been tremendously gratifying to see the outstanding workforce development programs support local industry, and our local workforce in being better trained in areas like manufacturing and technologically advanced fields,” said Trustee Paul Rodriguez. “Employees are reaching higher pay scales and employers are providing better jobs. I believe the future will see more college degrees, more critical partnerships with other colleges and universities and a center for manufacturing and industrial development for the entire border region.”

Delta State Professor Talbot Brooks is a Katrina hero – Jackson Clarion Ledger

Good Mornin’! Good Mornin’!

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina – the largest ever natural disaster to hit the United States – made landfall on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Shattering a state, scattering its residents and flooding everything in sight. Katrina ravaged everything in its path from Florida to Texas and the Magnolia State got ignored by the national media and weather channel. But the storm still hit, still took lives and changed many things forever. Recovery and rescue efforts were hindered as landmarks and roadway signs and the things that made anything easy to find and familiar – were all gone. Just how do you give somebody directions to something that used to exist but doesn’t exist and the folks there still need help anyway?

Hurricane Katrina eye wall from Hurricane Hunters aircraft.
National Weather Service

That’s the question that echoed as did many others in the early efforts. Then along came Talbot Brooks – a lifelong volunteer fireman. He had only moved to Mississippi in January of 2005 after working at Arizona State University. In Cleveland at Delta State University, Brooks works as a university professor teaching things that frankly, I still don’t understand after our one hour visit earlier this summer. His bio on the DSU website includes the description, “has served as the Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Information Technologies at Delta State University since 2005.

It goes on to say, “Mr. Brooks has been a career firefighter, volunteer firefighter, medic, and a U.S. Army Reserve Medical Service Corps Captain. Mr. Brooks has volunteered his services, time, and effort for significant events and crises such as the April 2011 tornado outbreak in Mississippi, the 2011 Mississippi flood, the 2011 Tohuku Tsunami, the 2010 Haiti earthquake, and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, among many others.”

Working with the Bolivar County, Brooks took the Katrina information from storm track and “threw it on a map showing what the wind speeds would be for Bolivar County. They sent it down to MEMA and they called and asked if I could come down. We loaded all of our computer gear and went down to MEMA and said ‘hi, we’re here to help and by the way did you know we can do this geospatial thing?’”

Brooks arrived in Jackson on August 27 to work with disaster management agencies and immediately dug in with all the technology available to him and recreated the area to help rescuers rescue folks. With so many first responders coming into the area with no knowledge of it and no road signs and objects to use to direct them, Brooks had to recreate the coastal area and helped send rescuers to the exact locations they needed to be. He developed storm surge depth models to predict where operational managers could effectively put their resources. The tedious task is documented here.

He needed more help and put out a call to GISCorps Committee to find them. They came from all over the US – Ohio, Missouri, Florida, North Carolina, Illinois, California, New York, Texas, Arkansas, and Colorado and had an average work experience of 8 years. They had an immediate impact on the situation. Working with local universities, the team was involved in Search and Rescue efforts. More than 100 addresses/locations were translated into GPS coordinates for the US Coast Guard rescue helicopter evacuation missions. Many of these location to GPS translations could only be done fast enough using GIS. Many of the calls had scant information wot work with such as, “I’m trapped at the water treatment plant in _____” or “I’m about 1 mile north of _____ and I can see a church steeple”. Talbot and his team helped rescuers find them all. More than 5,000 linear feet of maps were created to help find critical infrastructure that was hidden due to storm debris. The team generated debriefing maps for responders and then President Bush.

“Geospatial technology is really a suite of technologies that uses GPS, aerial photography, satellite imaging, geographic information systems and visualization techniques to explore and understand problems from a spatial context,” Brooks said. “Everything is somewhere. Being able to put that where component into a problem set helps us better understand what’s going on and solve some pretty unique problems.”

He explained that when you call 911, your phone should appear on a map on a screen in front of a dispatcher. They then send the right department in the area that you are in. But Brooks understands how to take the information of perhaps every call that comes into 911 for a fire call spatially in this community for the last five years.

“When I start to look at this information on a map, I can start to derive some trends,” Brooks said. “Oh, I have a hot spot or lots of kitchen fires in this neighborhood. Now I can exploit that information. If I’m the fire chief and I see this particular neighborhood with a problem with kitchen fires, I can do a targeted fire prevention program and go door to door with cooking safety. By using that information on a spatial basis, I get a better understanding of what my problems are.”

At Delta State, Brooks and his team have created the “first true undergraduate degree built specifically to teach geospatial analysis and intelligence techniques. Most academic programs, students will major in environmental science or geography and then take four or five classes in geospatial technologies and call it a minor or a certificate. We’ve flipped that model.”

The new discipline is a full undergraduate program at Delta State University. It is the only one of its kind in the United States. The only one. Right here in the Mississippi Delta. Other schools have pieces of what he does but no one has the whole package to combine it all.

“This field wasn’t even around 30 years ago,” Brooks said. “We’re thrifty here with education. Our incoming Marines will be set up to earn a two-year degree at MDCC and then a four-year degree here at Delta State. We had our first student get his two-year certificate this summer. Delta State doesn’t offer everything online every semester.”

DSU leads the country. The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and USGS recognized Delta State as a National Center for Academic Excellence. Other schools included West Point and George Mason.

“We keep some pretty interesting company,” he said.

The discipline is one fully used by the military and intelligence agencies and Brooks has plenty of military students. Some of whom are actually sending in homework from foxholes scattered around the globe. To help with the cost of education, DSU partners with Mississippi Delta Community College in Moorhead for military students to take classes at lower costs, get an associate degree and then transfer to DSU for a full degree. These two steps in education actually help lower costs for military while providing them steps up in their military pay.

“How are we keeping tabs on North Korea? Spatial technology. We have analyst in our program where that is literally their job. Because half of our enrollment is in active military we are helping them earn a college degree. They are online students and we also offer it in residence.”

But with the state not having much education dollars to spread around, Brooks has to make due with just under $78,000 a year to run his department. So, he pursues grants and private sector partnerships to help provide funding for internships. He has students helping some local counties build 911 databases and creating topographic maps for National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and Hexagon. Those maps are literally being “put in war fighters’ hands, their lives literally depending on my students building and learning a skill set. We are quite literally on the front lines with what we’re doing.”

Brooks and his students travel to conferences and meetings around the globe and the US learning more and more and brings that knowledge and connections home to the MS Delta to impart to students and faculty.

One of his students, Scout Mauch – yes, she’s named after the book character and goes by Scout, grew up on a farm in Arkansas and is looking to garner an education in this field to use in a possible agriculture career. One of the uses for farmers is to understand where to water and fertilize specific areas of their fields, helping lower the costs of farming.

“It shows the satellite imagery of your crops but it also goes into the military and government. Marines in the field using maps,” Mauch said. “It’s probably one of the fastest growing degrees. I’m still overwhelmed by all of the possibilities. I don’t even know what exactly I want to do with this yet or what job I want to get. I just have one foot in trying to figure it out.”

Since April, Scout has travelled to Tampa, Florida and Vietnam.

“We worked with the United Nations, well Talbot and Chris did, I was just a student on the trip, to help the Vietnamese Disaster Management Agencies with their capacity to use geospatial technologies,” she said. “I’ve been very busy since I got into this at Delta State.”

The degree has only been in place for a year and half at Delta State.

“We are after every student we can find,” Brooks said. “I have jobs for students who want to work their way through, we have scholarships we don’t have out of state tuition. I recruit all types – I love artistic students. They are good at cartography and visualization. People that like to write computer code, we have a spot for them, people that like to work outdoors, we have a place for you too. Here’s your GPS, go collect some data in the field, crawl around the woods and count bears – it’s a team of students with very diverse interests and diverse backgrounds. They end up going and doing everything from working with the intelligence community, MDWFP, the Army Corp of Engineers, local municipalities and consulting firms. They are in any and every discipline you can think of. I’m trying to place students with the Washington Post. Someone needs to create those cool maps and graphics that go in their publications and we teach that.”

To learn more about the program, contact Brooks at the Center for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Information Technologies

Delta State University

110 Kethley Hall

Cleveland, Mississippi 38733

Tel.: 662-846-4520


I’d always ‘preciate your comments here or over at Facebook, or you can tweet me @markhstowers … See yah next week! As a freelance writer, I’m working to grow my business and have created a GoFundMe page to help with that. Please take a look and see if you can help. I’d greatly appreciate it!

A Rebel, a Statesman — or Fightin’ Okra — and even a Trojan, I’m the Sunflower County farm boy with no green thumb who longed to live in the big city, got his wish and now is working his way back to the farm.

A freelance writer, middle-of-the-road-conservative and wannabe fry cook, I look to bring native Mississippi folks and businesses to your attention through my looking glass.

There are those of us that packed up Mississippi and took it with us to new destinations and neighbors. My area code may be 248 but my heart is all about 662, with plenty of room for the 601. Heck, I’ll even saunter into the 228 from time to time.

There’s more about me at

Top Ten Tech Trends 2018: There’s Value in AI, but Where Is the Value Greatest? – Healthcare Informatics

The spotlight has been shining bright on IBM Watson of late as healthcare stakeholders ponder how artificial intelligence can help solve some of the industry’s biggest problems

Editor’s Note: Throughout the next week, in our annual Top Ten Tech Trends package, we will share with you, our readers, stories on how we gauge the U.S. healthcare system’s forward evolution into the future.

Reading about the future of healthcare these days likely means there will be some reference to artificial intelligence (AI). It’s one of those “buzz terms” that is being used in a variety of ways across the sector, though applications are still quite early in most cases. But make no mistake—for healthcare stakeholders of all types, AI is a term that’s on their minds.

A big reason why AI in healthcare has become such a popular concept certainly is due to the mainstream media coverage of IBM Watson, an artificial intelligence supercomputer that was thrusted into the world of healthcare just a few years after it won in Jeopardy! against record-setting champions in 2011. Watson Health, a unit of IBM, was launched at the 2015 HIMSS conference and employs thousands of people. However, along with the popularity of Watson has come intense scrutiny, especially in the last year.

A STAT News report from September 2017 was one of the first major stories detailing how Watson has been performing in hospitals, specifically examining Watson for Oncology—a solution that aims to help physicians quickly identify key information in a patient’s medical record, surface relevant articles and explore treatment options to reduce unwanted variation of care and give time back to their patients.


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But the piece found that Watson for Oncology has struggled in several key areas, noting that while IBM sales executives say that Watson for Oncology possesses the ability to identify new approaches to cancer care, in reality, “the system doesn’t create new knowledge and is artificially intelligent only in the most rudimentary sense of the term.” A more recent report, also from STAT, included internal documents from IBM Watson Health which indicated that the Watson for Oncology product often returns “multiple examples of unsafe and incorrect treatment recommendations.”

There was also one newsworthy story last year about a partnership between IBM and MD Anderson Cancer Center, part of the University of Texas, which soured to the point where the $62 million project for the cancer center to deploy Watson had been scratched. Lynda Chin, M.D., who oversaw the Watson project at MD Anderson before it fell apart, told STAT reporters that it was quite challenging to make the technology functional in healthcare. “Teaching a machine to read a record is a lot harder than anyone thought,” she told STAT, noting how her team spent countless hours trying to get the machine to deal with the idiosyncrasies of medical records.

Meanwhile, in a recent interview with Healthcare Informatics, Francine Sandrow, M.D., chief health information officer (CHIO) at the Corporal Michael J. Crescenz Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center in Philadelphia, notes that her team was working on a project with Watson, which was being used to identify patients who were at-risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but had not actually been diagnosed with it. This project focused on simply feeding their charts into the Watson engine, says Sandrow, who is involved in several Veterans Health Administration clinical informatics initiatives.

Unfortunately, she says, “They de-funded [the project] before we got to the results part.” She explains, “When you’re dissecting a chart, the first thing you have to do, when you’re training a computer to recognize [something], is define the terms that would be included as triggers for a particular condition. “So, for post-traumatic stress disorder, she continues, the high volume of terms meant that there weren’t too many charts that would be eliminated. In other words, there were too many indicators for the Watson machine to effectively pull out those patients at risk. “I’m not certain that they would be able to get the specificity that they were looking for. There’s a lot of subtle indicators for PTSD, and human behavior, that I think it would have clouded up the ability of the computer to recognize it, simply from the chart,” Sandrow says.

IBM, according to STAT, has reiterated to its customers that all data included in Watson for Oncology is based on real patients and that the product has won praise around the world for its recommendations. Discussions have also emerged on just how much the company should be blamed—versus the end user—for implementation struggles. To this point, Leonard D’Avolio, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and CEO and co-founder of healthcare technology company Cyft, notes, “Who is at fault there? IBM or the provider team that bought the product for marketing and hoped it would fulfill a vision?”

Of course, Watson is just one example of an AI technology that has sparked debate, but due to IBM’s immense industry standing and given how the tech giant has marketed Watson, for one of its top tech trends this year, Healthcare Informatics sought out to ask industry leaders what they were seeing and hearing about the AI supercomputer, and how its performance has affected the broader artificial intelligence landscape.

Humans versus Computers

Bill Kassler, M.D., is the deputy chief health officer at IBM Watson Health, and as a physician, he offers a unique dual-perspective on AI as he comes from both ends of the spectrum: a healthcare practitioner and a technology solution company executive. When asked about the skepticism that has surrounded Watson of late, Dr. Kassler says that in general in healthcare, doctors, hospital administrators and other decision makers are conservative and operate in resource-constrained ways. “They are skeptical about technology, drugs, and anything else that’s new. That’s the baseline culture.”

Bill Kassler, M.D.

Kassler contends that even though IBM must work around this challenge, its AI offerings remain quite popular worldwide.Indeed, IBM Watson Health’s Oncology and Genomics business has doubled in revenue year after year since 2015, and its AI offerings are now being used in more than 230 hospitals around the world. Last year at this time, that number was just 55 hospitals, he says.

For traditional physicians, one of the primary critiques with AI is that the computer’s treatment recommendations may differ from the doctor’s. For instance, a physician that makes decisions based on decades of experience might not take too kindly to a computer recommendation that the doctor firmly believes is not the best option for the patient.

Kassler says he gets asked this question frequently, and attests that studies have been done on how often the Watson computer agrees with a panel of patient care experts. He references one particular study, published last year in the journal The Oncologist, that was led by oncologists at the University of North Carolina’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. The oncologists tested Watson for Genomics on more than 1,000 retrospective patient cases. More than 99 percent of the time, Watson agreed with the physicians, but beyond that, in more than 300 cases, Watson found clinically actionable therapeutic options that the physicians had not identified.

To this point, Kassler acknowledges that if the technology simply always agrees with the human, there is “limited utility.” While it can improve unwanted variation and quality, “what you really want is for that system to surface new insights,” he says. In a separate study of Watson for Oncology that Kassler mentions, inclusive of nearly 2,000 high-risk breast cancer patients, 30 percent of the time, Watson identified a new tumor mutation and had actionable recommendations.

As such, Kassler says, “If there’s a conflict [between computer and human], our hope is that Watson will deliver a list of recommended treatment options, the doctor will look at that and [compare] what his or her patient has with the other factors that Watson has included, and will then choose to accept the computer’s recommendations or not. And then the doctor will tell Watson why he or she made that decision so that Watson can learn from it,” he explains.

Expanding on this point, Yan Li, Ph.D., an assistant professor of information systems and technology at California-based Claremont Graduate University, notes that most AI technologies are in the form of a black box—that is, providing an output (recommendations) from a set of inputs without an explanation as to why. “It is very difficult for an experienced clinician to trust such an output without a logical explanation, especially if the output is different from his or her experience-based judgment,” Li asserts.

Is it Worth the Battle?

More broadly speaking, the reason why so many innovators are bullish on leveraging AI in healthcare has to do with the computer’s learning or computation capabilities—specifically its speed and volumes in consuming information, Li says. “To provide high-quality care, medical practitioners must continuously update their clinical knowledge and keep current with the research literature,” she says, referencing a study that estimated it would require a physician approximately 627.5 hours per month to evaluate newly published research in primary care. But for computers, Li says, “processing this literature would take a matter of a few hours, and even less if we horizontally scale up the computation power.”

At the same time, there are a fair share of challenges, beyond the aforementioned trust issue. Li believes that in their current state, most AI solutions require training. “It is not the computer; rather, it is the computational algorithm that is trained based on historical data, and then makes predictions, classifications, or inferences based on input data. AI algorithms fall short in not considering relevant clinical information that may not be captured in the training data,” she says, offering an example of a diagnostic conversation between the patient and the clinician.

There is additionally a fear conundrum: the concern that AI technologies will eventually diminish the need for certain human jobs as they have begun to do in many other sectors. But the experts interviewed for this piece believe that this apprehension is mostly unwarranted. “It’s not a valid fear. It’s just something that sells stories because talking about replacing humans is something that’s super interesting,” says Cyft’s D’Avolio. Sanket Shah, an instructor for the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Department of Biomedical and Health Information Sciences, agrees with D’Avolio, noting, “Physicians need not fear being replaced by AI. Physicians are the providers of care and AI is one of the many tools they use to administer that care and improve their craft.”

Leonard D’Avolio, Ph.D.

In the end, when all the concerns and potential benefits are added altogether, most experts are still bullish on how AI can provide key clinical decision support to improve patient outcomes and lower costs. D’Avolio believes that many health system leaders have recently broadened “what was once a narrow view of AI and machine learning within their organizations.”

What’s sorely needed, most leaders in this space agree, is better education on how AI offerings exactly will work in healthcare organizations. And in this sense, Watson’s successes and failures can be used to learn lessons moving forward. In the first STAT report, the authors wrote, “The actual capabilities of Watson for Oncology are not well-understood by the public, and even by some of the hospitals that use it.”

Of course, at what level a provider might leverage AI might also depend on several other factors. IBM’s Kassler notes, “If you are a small, one-person family practice in rural Vermont that is now just starting to use Excel spreadsheets for population health registries, yes, it’s too early [to start using AI]. But if you are a large integrated delivery network looking to invest in and be part of the development and perfection of this technology, it’s a great time,” he says.

As such, it makes it tough to answer if AI is at a crossroads in this current moment, and this will probably be a meaningful health IT trend in the years to come. As Kassler acknowledges, “For those on the leading edge, it’s a great time to get involved, but it’s not for everyone.”

SAP enables digital transformation – Chinadaily USA

SAP’s 2018 SAPPHIRE NOW conference in Orlando, Florida, on June 5. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Editor’s Note:This year marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up. China Daily interviewed top executives of well-known multinational companies for their views on the country’s socioeconomic development.

Germany-based tech solutions company provides enterprise applications software and cloud services to Chinese clients

Please use three words to describe China’s changes in the past 40 years.

Growth, transformation, globalization. China has successfully managed the world’s fastest growth trajectory in human history. It has grown at a strong pace for decades to become the world’s second-largest economy.

China has successfully transformed the economy structurally as well. From heavy industry to high-tech, China is globally competitive across the range. The country has emerged not only as a global innovation powerhouse, but a true global leader in many respects.

What are the biggest achievements in China since the introduction of the reform and opening-up policy 40 years ago?

The reform and opening-up policy provided an unprecedented opportunity for Chinese enterprises to develop quickly and leapfrog other markets. The introduction of the policy four decades ago unleashed energy across the economy, and forward-looking companies eagerly adopted information technology. They embraced global best practices to optimize their business processes, and integrated into the global digital economic system.

China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001 further accelerated the digitalization and globalization of domestic businesses. It began to put more emphasis on high-quality development driven by innovation.

The introduction of the Belt and Road Initiative and smart manufacturing are calling Chinese businesses to put digital transformation at the center of their development strategies.

With the growth of the internet, Chinese entrepreneurs and business leaders have created amazing companies that are now giants, topping the list of the Fortune 500.

While large enterprises are making rapid and significant strides in terms of digital transformation, there are smaller companies that are innovating in advanced technologies, setting China on a course for continued leadership.

What’s the biggest challenge China faces today and how can the country overcome it?

President Xi Jinping’s new development concepts are designed to address the challenges China faces. I deeply admire the way the five concepts, “innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared,” are clear and provide a blueprint for the country for the coming decades.

It is a great example of long-term thinking at strategic and executional levels. One of the biggest challenges that all countries, including China, face today is to reduce negative environmental impacts while sustaining economic growth.

China’s role as a change-maker in global technology also has a direct impact on environmental sustainability. The government is committed to policies ensuring that its accelerated development takes full consideration of the environment.

How has your company benefited from the country’s reform and opening-up policy?

The year 1992 was a historic milestone in China’s reform and opening-up. This was the same year SAP won our first-ever Chinese mainland customer. After that, SAP established its China business in 1995.

Today, China is one of our top five markets globally, and we consider China our second home. We are the market leader in enterprise applications software and one of the fastest-growing cloud providers.

For the past 20 years we have been on a journey with our Chinese customers to help them create value for their organizations by applying technology to solve some of their most complex business challenges. After establishing ourselves in China, we quickly expanded our footprint with operations in more than 10 cities.

Having aligned our business strategy with China’s development agenda, SAP has achieved tremendous growth through enabling the digital transformation of our customers.

Has competition intensified between your company and Chinese companies?

I am deeply impressed by the fact that more than one-fifth of the Fortune 500 companies are Chinese enterprises, the majority of which are SAP customers. We are extremely proud to be a technology partner with our Chinese customers and to help them enable their digital transformation. In China, SAP has been investing and building a broad business network with hundreds of local partners, including Lenovo, Huawei, Alibaba Cloud and China Telecom, just to name a few. We collaborate with local companies in a complementary approach. By combining our strengths, we co-innovate solutions that meet the unique needs of Chinese customers.

Apart from economic development, what progress in other fields have you witnessed in China in the past 40 years?

I am very impressed with young people in China. Whenever I visit, I am so impressed with their ability to think innovatively, dream big and be global, while still being proud of China. There are so many innovative young minds with determination and enthusiasm, who are well poised to contribute to the technology industry, both in China and abroad.

SAP has an active university alliance program enabling close to 1 million students in more than 300 educational institutions across China to integrate the latest SAP technologies into academic teaching and research.

How do you view China’s role in the world today?

China clearly is a strong power economically and politically. After four decades of development, China has also established itself as a global innovation leader.

Around the world, China is engaging in constructive development and dialogue, and is asserting its influence to benefit not only the country, but also the world at large.

What will be the country’s “calling card” in the future?

Today, two out of five of the world’s unicorns – startups valued at $1 billion or more – are from China, which really demonstrates the innovative power and adaptive speed of Chinese companies.

The country has made significant advances in technology in areas such as supercomputing and artificial intelligence. This has helped to propel its economic growth and raised the bar for innovation across the world.

I think China’s calling card in the coming decades will continue to be a strong spirit and capability for innovation to make China and the world a better place.

Information technology jobs outpace most other jobs in productivity and growth since 2004 – Science Daily

“The future of jobs is in IT, and IT-intensive tasks” said Giovanni Gallipoli, co-author and associate professor from the Vancouver School of Economics at UBC. “Growth and productivity in jobs involving IT tasks are very strong, and workers who can perform such tasks have a clear competitive advantage in the labour market.”

The study reveals the well documented slow-down in employment and wage gains associated with skills and education that has been recorded after the year 2000 is in fact not occurring at all for jobs that involve IT. The share of these jobs has increased substantially over the past two decades, with IT-intensive occupations growing by 19.5 per cent between 2004 and 2017. Less IT-intensive occupations only grew by 2.4 per cent over the same period. The growth in IT jobs is more than eight times the growth rate than for other jobs over the past decade.

“While there is clear evidence that earnings growth for Americans with college degrees has somewhat flattened since 2000, earnings have actually grown significantly for individuals working in jobs involving IT tasks,” said Gallipoli. “Both companies and workers stand to benefit if they invest in IT education.”

Despite the decline in traditional manufacturing jobs from automation or off-shoring, the study also shows that a subset of jobs in manufacturing that involve IT tasks have increased in number, as well as having high productivity growth and returns.

According to the researchers, the rise of IT has changed the nature of employment in the manufacturing sector, creating a greater demand for workers with computing and technical expertise.

“Companies often report troubles finding enough workers for IT-intensive tasks,” said MIT’s Christos Makridis, the study’s co-author. “This suggests the presence of a skills gap for jobs with digital and technical requirements. The insufficient number of job candidates able to perform complex IT tasks suggests the possibility of workers’ mismatches in the labour market. It also suggests the need for additional training, whether formal or on the job, like apprenticeships, that focuses on the skills that are most in demand.”

While much of the debate around automation and the role of technology in employment today focuses on its impact on jobs, or how workers stand to be replaced by robots, the researchers stress greater focus needs to be paid to its effects on productivity, wages and the ongoing structural change in the labour market of both manufacturing and services.

“Our research starts to highlight these sizable effects, and the growth in employment demand for certain IT-intensive tasks cannot be easily automated or offshored,” Gallipoli said. “The emergence of IT intensive jobs has had a major impact on the structure and on the distribution of wages both within and across sectors.”

“As the cost of collecting and processing information continues declining, every company is going to turn into a data science company, whether they like it or not,” said Makridis. “That is only going to raise the demand for information technology workers.”

The study, Structural Transformation and the Rise of Information Technology, is published in the Journal of Monetary Economics.

Indiana Tech hosts ‘professional studies’ open house Sept. 13 – News Sentinel

Busy working adults looking for a manageable way to fit education into their lives are encouraged to attend an open house hosted by Indiana Tech’s College of Professional Studies on Thursday, Sept. 13, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Seitz Conference Center in Andorfer Commons on the Indiana Tech campus at 1600 E. Washington Blvd. A light dinner will be served. Those interested in attending can RSVP or learn more at

CPS courses are five weeks long and taken one course at a time to allo students to build momentum toward the completion of their undergraduate or graduate degree. In addition, students can take courses on campus or online. More than 40 degree options are available through the CPS program including business administration, cybersecurity, psychology, criminal justice, health information management and information systems/technology. Learn more about Indiana Tech’s College of Professional Studies at