Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Tuesday, April 16, 2024

IBM Launches 2nd Cognitive Computing Center in a Month 


IBM today announced a multi-year, cognitive computing collaboration with the University of Maryland in Baltimore on an Accelerated Cognitive Cybersecurity Laboratory (ACCL). It’s the second such move in a month. In mid-April Big Blue announced plans for the Center for Cognitive Computing Systems Research (C3SR) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

The moves are in keeping with IBM's stated position that the era of accelerated cognitive computing has begun. The latest effort will open in the fall 2016 within the College of Engineering and Information Technology at UMBC. ACCL will focus on “work to advance scientific frontiers in the application of cognitive computing to cybersecurity via analytics and machine learning, while also exploring specialized computer power optimized for these new intensive computing workloads” according to IBM.

Given the wide swath of potential applications for cognitive computing in science, government, and industry, it’s easy to wonder if IBM will open several more domain-specific cognitive computing centers jointly with academia. IBM said this collaboration is part of its ongoing academic initiatives that help students develop skills and understanding of cognitive computing to meet the increasing demand for high-skilled technology professionals.

Anupam Joshi ACCL director

Anupam Joshi ACCL director

Anupam Joshi will direct the new lab. He is the chair of computer science and electrical engineering at UMBC. IBM said other faculty members, graduate and undergraduate students, and software engineers with “strong expertise in cognitive computing, accelerated and high performance computing, and cybersecurity” would join an ACCL team.

UMBC researchers will collaborate with IBM scientists to research and develop innovative technology able to, with a human analyst in the loop, detect, analyze and mitigate sophisticated threats quickly. Perhaps not surprisingly, ACCL research will be conducted on IBM and OpenPOWER technology. Few specifics about the equipment were given other than it would be comprised of IBM Power Systems “infused with acceleration technology from the OpenPOWER Foundation.” Researchers will also receive technical development and support from IBM Systems Group.

UMBC is one of eight universities in North America working to train IBM’s Watson for application in the cybersecurity space. Watson uses natural language processing to understand the vague and imprecise nature of human language in unstructured data. It can provide insights into emerging threats, as well as recommendations on how to stop them, increasing the speed and capabilities of security professionals.

It’s no secret cybersecurity threats are growing in both volume and sophistication. The issue is compounded by a growing shortage of security professionals, expected to reach 1.5 million unfilled positions by 2020 2015 (ISC)2 Global Information Security Workforce Study. With the ACCL, IBM and UMBC will explore new ways to apply cognitive technologies – which are able to digest, learn from, and reason over vast amounts of structured and unstructured data – to help cybersecurity professionals gain an advantage in the battle against cybercrime.

“There is a massive amount of security data that exists for human consumption, which cannot be processed by traditional security systems,” said J.R. Rao, Director, Security Research, IBM. “By exploring the intersection of cybersecurity and cognitive technology, we can leverage that untapped pool of data and evolve the way security professionals and technologies work together to help overcome cyber threats.”

The first center (C3SR), announced in April, is intended to build and optimize integrated systems such as state-of-the-art cognitive computing systems modeled on IBM’s Watson technology that can master a subject area by learning from multimedia and multi-modal educational content. According to plans, these systems will efficiently ingest vast amounts of data including videos, lecture notes, homework, and textbooks, and reason through this knowledge effectively enough to be able to eventually pass a college level exam. (See HPCwire’s earlier coverage, IBM Plans Cognitive Computing Research Center with University of Illinois).