I watched Hidden Figures last night as an event with work. Loved it. Not just for the obvious IBM connection but because of the true story around women in tech, who were using new technology for the first time to solve one of the world’s biggest problems. They talk in the film about looking beyond numbers to find maths that doesn’t exist yet. If you love technology, STEM or geeky films like Moneyball, you’ll LOVE this.


I highly encourage you to see it.


It felt very familiar since much of the innovation I talk about on a daily basis includes technologies that people haven’t properly figured out what to do with yet. I also receive many questions after keynotes or messages with similar sentiment around the fear of new technologies in AI replacing people’s jobs. A theme that ran through this film.


“If you wait until there’s a case study in your industry, you waited too long”. Seth Godin


There is a lovely moment during the film that I think is as relevant today, as it was in the 1960’s when these women were using IBM computers to figure out how to send a man to the moon. When looking at these amazing new computers which had just been delivered – and were capable of processing 23,000 calculations a second (today Watson can do 10M a second!), the main character Dorothy Vaughan said,


“IBM is going to put us out of a job. Only thing we can do is learn all we can and make ourselves valuable”.


Of course IBM didn’t put them out of a job but it certainly changed the way that they did their jobs. Not unlike cognitive “AI” technologies like IBM Watson today.


Worth remembering… the more things change, the more they stay the same….



If you’re interested, you can read more about the true story of Hidden Figures here.

Communications Designer @IBM • Climate Reality Leader • Lover of Old Business Books, Clever Technology and the NHS • Based in London, UK.

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