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Cognitive Systems: The New Era of Computing

Speaker Bios

Dr. Dario Gil

Director of Cognitive Computing, IBM Research

Dr. Gil is a leading technologist and executive at IBM. As a director at IBM Research, he has responsibilities spanning a broad variety of disciplines and laboratories. He is the creator and founding director of the Smarter Energy Research Institute, an international collaborative research consortium focused on creating optimized energy systems through the use of predictive analytics, optimization, and advanced computation. Coinciding with the IBM Centennial, and as part of IBM's annual Global Technology Outlook (a set of comprehensive studies that the IBM CEO commissions to the Research division to direct IBM's technology roadmaps, strategy, and investments), Dr. Gil led an interdisciplinary team in a year-long effort to define the new frontiers of information technology that are most likely to shape the industry in the decades to come. The strategy, which highlighted the transformational impact that learning systems will have in the world, has shaped IBM's view that a new era of computing is about to emerge. In an effort to accelerate this new era, Dr. Gil recently created the Cognitive Enterprise Laboratory at IBM Research, chartered with the mission of exploring the potential of cognitive systems inside enterprises and institutions. An expert in the field of nanotechnology, he is the author of numerous patents and publications in international journals and conferences. Dr. Gil is an elected member of the IBM Academy of Technology and received his PhD in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Prof. Idan Segev

Hebrew University

Prof. Idan Segev is the David and Inez Myers Professor in Computational Neuroscience and the former director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Neural Computation (ICNC) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he received his B.Sc. (1973) in math and PhD (1982) in experimental and theoretical neurobiology. He initiated the prestigious international EU course in computational neuroscience (starting in Crete, Greece; then in Trieste, Italy; and presently in Frieburg, Germany). His work is published in top journals such as Science, Nature, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He has received numerous awards, including best instructor at several international brain science courses. His research team utilizes computational and theoretical tools to study how neurons, the elementary microchips of the brain, compute and dynamically adapt to our ever-changing environment. In recent years, his group worked jointly with several experimental groups worldwide in an endeavor to model a whole piece of the mammalian cortex with the ultimate goal of unraveling how local fine variations within the cortical network underlie specific behavioral function and may give rise to certain brain diseases or to healthy and "individual" brains. Dr. Segev takes a keen interest in the connection between art and the brain and recently co-edited an artists' book with original etchings by ten top Israeli artists, prompted by an encounter with ICNC researchers.

Dr. Doron Friedman

The Interdisciplinary Center

Dr. Doron Friedman is a senior lecturer in the Sammy Ofer School of Communications, the head of the Advanced Reality Lab ( and is also an honorary lecturer in the Virtual Environments and Computer Graphics Lab at University College London. Doron holds a PhD in computer science from Tel Aviv University and has served as a visiting consultant at the Weizmann Institute of Science. Doron is co-inventor of several patents and commercial products; he was the co-founder and CTO of and has helped set up three other startup companies in the area of new media and intelligent systems. Doron and his lab members are currently involved in several international projects in the areas of telepresence, intelligent systems, and brain computer interfaces.

Dr. Chieko Asakawa

IBM Fellow, IBM Research - Tokyo

Blind since the age of fourteen, Dr. Chieko Asakawa is an IBM researcher who has been instrumental in furthering accessibility research and development for the past two decades. She joined IBM in 1985 after completing the computer science courses for the blind at Lighthouse Japan. She received a B.A. degree in English literature from Otemon University in 1982, and a PhD in engineering from the University of Tokyo in 2004. Her early digital Braille work in the 1980s is still helping the blind community in Japan to access books. In 1997, her work on the groundbreaking voice browser -- IBM Home Page Reader, which was made available in the U.S., Europe and Asia -- opened up the Web and its information resources to the blind. Its interface technology has been widely adopted by other voice browsers. As visual user interface and multimedia content have become increasingly popular on the Internet, Chieko has been working on finding ways for visually impaired people to enjoy the benefits of these advances. Since 2008, Chieko has led the Social Accessibility project, which creates an open, collaborative environment where blind users, developers, and sighted "supporters" work together to solve real-life Web accessibility issues raised by blind users. A variety of accessibility technologies that her team developed, as well as findings gained through the project, are part of the innovative accessibility improvement solution that IBM offers today. To explore ways to design a multimodal interface on mobile devices for use by the elderly, semiliterate or illiterate people and individuals with limited or no access to information technology, Chieko initiated an Open Collaboration Research project in 2010 with IBM researchers in India and Japan as well as with universities in India and Japan.

She is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the Institute of Electronics, Information and Communication Engineers of Japan, the Information Processing Society of Japan, and IBM Academy of Technology. She supports accessibility-related open standards efforts, and in 2010 she served as co-general chair for the international conference for Web accessibility (W4A). She was inducted into the Women in Technology International (WITI) Hall of Fame in 2003, and both within and outside of IBM, she has been actively working to help women engineers pursue technical careers. Chieko was appointed to IBM Fellow in 2009, IBM's most prestigious technical honor. In 2013, the government of Japan awarded the 2013 Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon to Chieko for her outstanding contributions to accessibility research.

Prof. Richard Zemel

University of Toronto

Prof. Richard Zemel received the B.Sc. degree in history and science from Harvard University in 1984, and the M.S. and PhD degrees in computer science from the University of Toronto, in 1989 and 1993, respectively. He is currently a professor of computer science at the University of Toronto, where he has been a faculty member since 2000. Prior to that he was an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Arizona, where he also held a joint appointment in the Center for Cognitive Science, and was a postdoctoral fellow at both the Salk Institute and Carnegie Mellon University. He has received several awards and honors, including a Young Investigator Award from the Office of Naval Research, and five Dean's Excellence Awards at the University of Toronto. He is a Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and a member of the Neural Information Processing Systems Foundation Advisory Board. His research interests include topics in machine learning, vision, and neural coding. His recent research focuses on ranking, active learning, structured output models, and fairness.

Prof. Nathan Intrator

Tel Aviv University

Prof. Intrator received his PhD in Applied Mathematics from Brown University under the supervision of Leon N Cooper (1973 Nobel Laureate). He is a Professor of Computer Science with joint appointment at the school of Neuroscience at Tel Aviv University and an adjunct Prof. at Brown University. Prof. Intrator is an international scholar in neural computation, machine learning, and pattern recognition and has authored/co-authored over 120 refereed scientific publications. His research interests include model estimation, validation, selection, interpretation and discrimination for high dimensional data problems. He has been applying his research to problems in acoustics such as speech, sonar, biomedical signals such as cardiac sounds and EEG. He currently develops machine learning and signal processing methods for advanced brain imaging and brain/computer interface, particularly for EEG and fMRI. He also studies hemodynamic response and cardiac acoustics with applications to real-time monitoring of cardiac mechanical functionality. Prof. Intrator's research has been supported by ARO, ONR, DARPA, BSF, ISF, GIF and other smaller granting agencies. His applied research led to several patents and the founding of three companies in the area of biomedical signal analysis and sonar imagery.

Dr. John M. Prager

IBM Research - Yorktown

Dr. John Prager has been working in technical fields related directly or indirectly to question answering for most of his professional career. Most recently, while at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, he worked on the Watson project, a system that played (and won) the Jeopardy! TV quiz show. He has been involved in both algorithms research, concentrating on question analysis and wordplay, and strategy. He is still involved with Watson, as it is being adapted to healthcare and other domains. Previously, he led IBM's successful entries in the TREC-QA tasks, an annual evaluation at NIST. Prior to that, he worked in various areas of search, including language identification, web search and categorization. He has contributed components to the IBM Intelligent Miner for Text product. For a while in the early 1990s, he was responsible for the search service on

While at the IBM Cambridge Scientific Center (Cambridge, Mass), John was the project leader of the REASON (Real-time Explanation And SuggestiON) project. REASON helped users by taking natural-language questions and processing them with an inference engine tied to a large repository of facts and rules about network-wide resources. John has degrees in mathematics and computer science from the University of Cambridge and in artificial intelligence from the University of Massachusetts. His publications include conference and journal papers, eleven patents, and a book on Turing.




















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