news Assistant Minister for Defence Stuart Robert yesterday announced a new alliance between the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) and IBM to conduct research in a range of what the pair described as “high-end defence technologies”.
“This alliance means the two organisations will collaborate in the highly specialised technology areas of cyber security, analytics and cognitive computing,” Robert said in a statement issued earlier this week by IBM. The agreement was signed this week in Canberra by the Chief Defence Scientist Alex Zelinsky and Glenn Wightwick, Director, IBM Research, Australia.
Zelinsky said the alliance was an opportunity to strengthen the ADF’s capabilities in cyber security.
“Both organisations have deep expertise in these areas and it is a natural fit that we work together in what are some very promising defence related areas of research,’ Zelinsky said.
Glenn Wightwick said IBM welcomed the chance to contribute to Defence capability in emerging technologies. “IBM has a long history of driving innovation – from the invention of the barcode to the creation of cognitive computing systems that learn and interact naturally with people to extend what either humans or machine could do on their own. Our researchers push the boundaries of science and technology to make the world work better,” Wightwick said. “IBM has a strong relationship with the Australian Defence Force and we are pleased to be able to collaborate with the DSTO on this important work.”
“Defence operates in an increasingly complex and challenging technology environment and has to pursue collaborative opportunities with organisations such as IBM Australia to meet Australia’s national security needs,” Robert added. “The government encourages such strategic collaborations to ensure Defence technology remains at the cutting edge,” he added.
Neither IBM nor Defence specified precisely what sorts of technologies the pair will be focusing on, beyond “cyber security, analytics and cognitive computing”.
However, the issue of IT security has recently become a large one for the Federal Government and the Department of Defence, with significant internal resources being ploughed nito the area. IBM is not specifically known as an IT security vendor, compared to specialist companies such as Symantec, MacAfee (Intel) and Trend Micro. However, the company does have solutions in the space.
In analytics, IBM has a significantly larger presence, having purchased a number of companies focused on the area of analytics over the past half decade, including several companies which focus on the growing area of analysis of so-called “big data” sets.
In cognitive computing, IBM could be said to be a leader in the space, courtesy of its Watson expert data retrieval platform. The platform came to public prominence in 2011 when Watson competed in several public screenings of the US-based Jeopardy television quiz show, eventually winning against a series of human opponents. IBM is now seeking to leverage the platform for commercial applications.
For example, in May last year, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group revealed it would be one of the first companies globally to trial using IBM’s Watson expert data retrieval platform to attempt to enhance the quality of data available to the bank’s customer service team, in a move that could eventually lead to Watson taking questions from customers themselves.
Image credit: IBM