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Potential of Cognitive Computing for National Security Missions

Dr. David R. Farley

Principal Member

Remote Sensing department

Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, California

Mon, 09/25/2017 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm
3105 Etcheverry Hall
Fall 2017 Colloquium Series

 co-hosted by the Nuclear Science and Security Consortium (

There has been substantial progress in machine learning, cognitive computing and other data analytics flavors. Decision makers, nuclear power plant operators, intelligence analysts and other high-consequence industries seek to understand the potential impact of these new computer-enhanced analytic tools.  IBM’s Watson cognitive computing platform enables users to ask natural language questions and evaluate hypotheses along with supporting evidence in the form of specific passages from a vast corpus of changing knowledge.  Watson currently supports evidence discovery for agencies in the Federal Government and has made significant strides in various industries, such as indications analysis for diagnosing diseases in the healthcare industry. But do platforms like Watson deliver for national security missions, and how do we assess this? In this presentation, an overview of  the national lab work on using Watson is detailed, as well as potential paths forward.

About the Speaker: 

Dr. David R. Farley is a Principal Member of the Technical Staff in the Remote Sensing department at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, California. He received his Ph.D. in Engineering Physics from UCSD in 1996 with an emphasis in spectroscopy and quantum mechanics. David did his postdoc at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in the weapons group, utilizing the NOVA laser system to study fluid interface mixing. Thereafter, he spent a decade working in the fission industry initiating and managing energy projects around the world. David returned to more basic research in 2009 at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) working on the Princeton Field-Reversed Confinement (FRC) fusion device, and then returned to LLNL to be a shot physicist at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) during the National Ignition Campaign (NIC). While at LLNL, David became involved in nonproliferation and safeguards work at Z-Division, leveraging his years on the ground for the nuclear industry, and since 2014 continues his nonproliferation and safeguards work at Sandia.