My Trip to IBM

21 March 2018

 

On Tuesday 13 March, some boys in the ­­­­­2nd and 5th Forms visited IBM.  This was as a supplement to their science lessons and to find out possible careers in the industry.

Hector KS (5th Form) writes about the trip below.

After quite a long journey stuck in one of the Caldicott minibuses, the sight of the IBM building was a bit of a relief. When we got out of the minibus, we had to walk along a path and then into the building to be signed in. There was an important meeting going on at the time so we had to be very quiet as a member of staff from IBM signed us in. Once she had signed us all in we were led down some stairs and told the plan for our morning.

First, we saw a demo about the room where the IBM staff create “crazy” projects, such as an electronic football table, a spider robot printed from the 3D printer (also in the room), a t-shirt connected to the internet which would light up, and, best of all, a virtual reality game that Jimmy L (5th Form), Warren Z (5th Form) and Jimmy C (2nd Form) were lucky enough to try out. The half an hour time in the room certainly felt shorter than it was.

Next, we went upstairs into a room filled with computers and screens. We looked at IBM’s computer system, “Watson”, and found it interesting that it had been taught to recognise what gender a name was most likely to be, based on the names that the people at IBM had given it.  For example, they told “Watson” that David was a man’s name and Emily was a woman’s name. With other names, it realised that names with female endings such as “ette” and “ella” were most likely to be female. When asked, the name “Bobetta” had a 99% chance of being female and 1% chance of being male.  “Watson” was also able to recommend the best signings for the football team Manchester United for the 2017 summer transfer window (not knowing the results of actual signings). It recommended that Manchester United should buy Romelu Lukaku, a signing the club went on to make.

Next, we looked through AR (Augmented Reality) goggles. These projected images onto the background of a room that you could be in without the goggles on. This would help if a plumber needed to know what a pipe was going to look like when in place behind the wall. When we tried the goggles on, it looked as if the pipes were right in front of us! 

After another short 30 minutes in the room, we went downstairs again and split into groups.  Each group was given a popular well-known game. The objective was to teach a computer to play the game on scratch (programming app) and then, by playing the game more, increase its knowledge of how it is played.  In some groups, the computer got so good that it became invincible! Pacman could never be caught by the ghosts, Wally could be found within seconds, and the computer was unbeaten at noughts and crosses. In only an hour, the computers became better than us at four games we had all played hundreds of times before.  It just went to show how fast computers can learn.

After two hours of impressive technology, we finally had to head back to school. Overall, it was a very interesting trip and I hope that we have another chance to visit in the future.

Hector KS

 

IBM Trip

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