This is a live post from the World of Watson conference, hosted by IBM Watson. This session is the opening remarks by Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President and CEO, IBM.

[RF: This is live blog post. I strive accurately to report highlights of what I hear. Please forgive typos and anything I misunderstand. Comments in square brackets starting with RF are editorial comments and reflects solely my opinion. I occasionally insert these in live blog posts.]

It does not seem that long ago that IBM announced Watson. When announced, it was one system; today it is an ecosystem. You are here today because you share IBM’s vision to change the world.

In the 16 months since forming a Watson Group, we have unleashed many around artificial intelligence (AI). Relays that Watson participated at Berkshire-Hathway recent shareholder meeting saying, if you see it, you will understand and believe it.

History of Watson Since January 2014 Watson. Rometty said then IBM would commit $1B to initiative. Who is building?  So far 250 ISV, 5000 companies in pipeline for partnership, 10s of thousands developers, 100 of the best universities.

How Building. Watson available as a cloud, with 20 services. Watson is now learning new languages, including Japanese (includes Softbank partnership). Most of today is about ecosystem but IBM is building repeatable solutions. Includes discovery, policy, explorers, analytics. Put Watson in hand of any business user to understand.  Who, how, what.

Health. Announced Watson Health – a platform for health and wellness. The future of health and wellness will be about information.  Apple, Medtronic, J&J are part of it. IBM also acquired two companies, in part for evidence-based outcomes management.

Scaling. You will hear from clients about scaling. Singapore Bank has 3000 users. One university has 50k students using. One health provider will use oncology advisor for 1.1M patients.

Historic Context for Watson. We’re on a journey. So far, there have been two eras of computing. First was counting. Second was everything we know to date: if that, then this. Watson is third era – cognitive, it learns.  More than just AI, it can augment human decisions. Think of it this way: Watson deals with the gray zones, where the answer is not clear. Watson forms millions of hypotheses and then tests it against many facts and presents probabilities. Health uses in drug discovery, insurers for risk assessment.

Commitment to Ecosystem and Open Platform. IBM knew it would do some innovation but understood it had to rely on an ecosystem of partners. You, the partners, will be the innovators. Open standards allow integration with other systems. The business model has to work for companies large and small. It has to be cloud-based because of huge data and because of processing power needed for cognitive computing. Today, IBM will announce a hybrid cloud.

Transformation. Aims to transform industries and professions. IBM will change the face health care. Watson has ingested huge amounts of primary info (clinical data) and secondary info (published journal articles. Will announce collaboration with Epic medical records and Mayo Clinic.

Ecosystem. Enumerates partners in travel and other verticals (e.g., oil and guess, and ROSS for legal).

What Lies Ahead? Not only change health care. Watson will take on bigger problems. Will announce today Watson Genomics, which will match known tumors with patient DNA for drug selection. Will launch Alchemy Data to use high volume news data. Alchemy helps curating real time massive news feeds. Next is standardizing and scaling Watson; better self-service. Watson is learning not just speaking languages, it is learning SME languages such as metallurgy and law.  Watson is getting new senses – the ability to analyze and assess images (eg, to diagnose radiologic exams).

Conclusion. We live at intersection of business, tech, and society. We are building a new era together. In the future, every decision mankind makes will be informed by a cognitive system like Watson.