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Dr. Helena S. Wisniewski Featured in IBM Research Distinguished Speaker Series

September 26, 2022
Dr. Helena Wisniewski Helena Wisniewski, Professor of Entrepreneurship & Chair of the Management, Marketing, Logistics, and Business Analytics Department, College of Business and Public Policy, University of Alaska Anchorage.

The future can be summed up in one word – unimaginable. That’s what Dr. Helena S. Wisniewski told a global audience of IBM researchers during a recent presentation on the global impact of the convergence of emerging technologies.

“The future has unlimited possibilities, and there are technological advances coming that we have not yet imagined,” Wisniewski said.

Her presentation was part of the IBM Research Distinguished Speaker Series, an initiative of IBM Research in collaboration with IBM’s Exploratory Science Program.

Wisniewski gave a brief history of artificial intelligence, noting that in the last few years, techniques that were once in the realm of science fiction have transformed into science facts.

Convergence of emerging technologies, like the Internet of Things (IoT), sensors, LIDAR and advancements in AI are already having impacts in areas such as finance, healthcare, autonomous vehicles, and supply chain management.

Digital twins – digital models of real-world objects or processes – are also more and more possible with this convergence. Wisniewski gave examples of how electrical grids, wind farms, and jet engine developers are using digital twins to improve processes, save money and power and reduce carbon emissions.

Resilient supply chains are important for both government and commercial enterprises, Wisniewski said. Digital twins have the capability to model the very complex global supply chain network to alleviate the kinds of shocks the world experienced due to the COVID pandemic.

In the future, human digital twin models could help find the right treatments for individuals. As an example, modeling is already being developed to simulate the mechanical and electrical behavior of the heart to improve healthcare for cardiac patients.

Following the presentation, Wisniewski addressed how universities could best engage with these emerging technologies in the future. “One of the big goals of academia is to prepare graduates to work in a rapidly-changing world,” Wisniewski said. She discussed initiatives at the College of Business and Public Policy, including making students aware of the business impacts of AI, giving them real-world experience through membership in the Digital Twin Consortium, developing an artificial intelligence lab in collaboration with UAA’s College of Engineering, and partnering with community organizations to help solve problems with AI.

“These technologies cut across all industries and disciplines, so having multi-disciplinary programs that encompass the applications to health or neuroscience or engineering or business are very important for the future. And actually making use of things like digital twins or the metaverse – how can you use that to enhance the learning process for students? All those things coming together will make the universities who do it be really robust.”

Wisniewski was invited to the Distinguished Speaker series by IBM researcher Dr. James Wynn, whose work laid the foundation for laser refractive surgical techniques known as LASIK and PRK. Wynn had heard Wisniewski speak at a National Academy of Inventors conference and indicated her seminar could inspire the IBM research community to contemplate pursuing highly ambitious activities.

You can watch the full presentation at ON24.

More about Dr. Helena S. Wisniewski

Dr. Helena S. Wisniewski is Professor of Entrepreneurship and Chair of the Department of Management, Marketing, Logistics and Business Analytics at the College of Business and Public Policy. She is a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) in recognition of creating and facilitating inventions that have a tangible impact on society, improving the quality of life, and contributing to economic development. Wisniewski has extensive executive and leadership experience in industry, government, academia, and service on public and private boards of directors. Visit her directory profile for her full bio.