Topping the hills of Santa Teresa County Park in south San Jose, Calif., IBM’s West Coast research and development lab is home to some of Silicon Valley’s now-ubiquitous tech innovations. Home of the first hard disk drive, early relational database technology and, today, novel artificial intelligence chip development, the common theme underlying the vision of the lab over the past 30-plus years has always been data.
One of the first things I think about with any new project at our San Jose lab, IBM Research - Almaden is: What is a new source of data that we haven’t tried yet?
This relatively new way of thinking creates new pathways for solving problems, such as using metagenomics for food safety. As we find more and more ways of processing data, the opportunities for finding new data sets and getting new value out of data only increases. We can leverage data and tools, including AI and cloud computing, to solve earth’s most difficult problems.
One of the most important pieces of advice that I received early in my career was to always be willing to talk to the woman in the office next door, or the guy down the hall. Find out what they are doing and how are they doing it. Take it all in. At first, I didn’t really understand why that was going to be so important, and I mostly focused on talking to people in my same field of study because that’s where I felt comfortable.
But, over time, I realized by interacting with people who are working in software, chemistry, polymers, or hard disk drive solutions, I was able to see things I would not have been able to see day to day and find new connections to my own work. I think that’s really critical. The more we can find ways in our daily interactions to learn from each other’s different perspectives, the faster we are going to move forward.
Jeff Welser is vice president and Lab Director, IBM Research - Almaden. Today the lab specializes in areas including: Watson technologies, storage systems, data management and analytics, nanotechnology, materials science, Web 2.0 technologies and IBM Smarter Planet projects, such as healthcare informatics, water desalination and electric car batteries. Dr. Welser received his PhD in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University . Welser holds 21 US Patents and has published over 75 technical papers and presentations. He is a member of the IBM Academy of Technology, an IEEE Fellow, a member of the American Physical Society, and has served on numerous Federal agency and Congressional panels on advanced semiconductor technology.The InformationWeek community brings together IT practitioners and industry experts with IT advice, education, and opinions. We strive to highlight technology executives and subject matter experts and use their knowledge and experiences to help our audience of IT ... View Full Bio