Artificial Intelligence will Affect the Practice of Medicine

Recently, the Verge sat down with Dr. Eric Topol, who recently published a book entitled “Deep Medicine,” which examines how artificial intelligence will change healthcare. Dr. Topol presented the following insights:

Artificial intelligence will not replace doctors. Patients will still appreciate the human touch when it comes to getting health care. Also, AI can have glitches or get hacked, so human doctors will have to check the Ai’s diagnosis, sort of like seeking a second opinion in the same office.

AI will be able to solve a long-standing problem that doctors face, which is the time they must spend analyzing data from patients, especially from new implantable and ingestible sensors, not to mention getting it inputted into a medical records system. An AI system will be able to perform those tasks for the doctor, freeing him or her to spend more time with patients.

On the other hand, government regulators and health care managers may try to use the new technology to force doctors to see even more patients than they already do. The temptation would be to decrease the cost of health care by decreasing the number of doctors available to treat patients. In this case, AI would be a “force multiplier’ rather than a quality enhancer. This approach is clearly not the way to go if the quality of health care is a priority, 

Several studies must be conducted to ensure that AI systems perform their diagnostic tasks and data integration with accuracy and speed. A fully functional medical AI system would also reduce medical errors, a major cause of patient injury and death.

Finally, the new system must be designed with patient privacy in mind. The patient will have to have control over who gets access to his or her medical data, which will often be dispersed in several locations but gathered and integrated by the AI system.

Artificial Intelligence on the Edge

Artificial intelligence promises to radically transform the economy, perhaps faster than any technological revolution in history. According to a report from the McKinsey Global Institute, AI could add $13 trillion to global wealth by 2030, which is equivalent to an additional 1.2 percent of growth per year. However, this brings up an important question: how should organizations integrate artificial intelligence technology into their operations?

One possible solution is to decentralize the process by allowing data to be analyzed by each individual machine or on a local server. This brings AI closer to the “edge”–meaning closer to the source of the data, rather than a centralized cloud. Edge computing, as it’s called, has the advantage of improving efficiency and security. It enables intelligent devices or machines to extract and use data directly from the source on the periphery of the network instead of waiting to hear back from the cloud. For example, the precious milliseconds saved by edge computing could make a big difference for time-sensitive applications on the factory floor such as sorting, inspections, quality control, maintenance, and safety.

However, there is an obvious trade off: once edge computing devices proliferate in the factory or the workplace, it becomes more difficult to scale up. The problems of complexity, connectivity, and interoperability increase as more nodes are added to the system. Most of these problems will be solved with new technology, but some data analysis may still need to occur in a central or secondary hub. That is why edge and cloud computing are not exclusionary. The two technologies will work together to overlap and complement each other.

Organizations will need to decide what works better on the edge and what works better on the cloud. Although this is not an easy problem to solve, it does have the benefit of flexibility. According to Diego Tamburini, the Principal Manufacturing Industry Lead at Microsoft, edge computing gives organizations the option of “balancing workloads more efficiently based on latency, compute power, or data privacy requirements.” In other words, the edge can perform most of the basic work, while some data is sent to the cloud for deeper processing and analysis, thus improving the productivity of the organization as a whole.

Next Generation – Part 4

Recruiting the IT Community

CEF (COMMON Education Foundation)

CEF is a group within the IBM i community that supports students interested in pursuing IT careers. This organization should not be overlooked when looking for new employees. CEF’s mission provides insight:

As technology continues to evolve at an exponential rate, so does the demand for IT professionals. This growing need presents an unprecedented opportunity for students to embark on an educational track to prepare them for a professional career in Information Technology.

The COMMON Education Foundation (CEF) is providing pathways to engage and educate a new generation of IT talent. One of CEF’s primary missions is to nurture the development and growth of future IT professionals who will manage and support the computing systems of tomorrow. CEF’s strategy is to encourage students and individuals (including those who have business experience and are considering career changes) to seek careers in the information technology industry, while providing them with supplementary educational opportunities along the way.

CEF has a lot of offerings, including:

  • Student Sponsorship
  • Educator Sponsorship
  • Student Scholarship

Student Sponsorship

Students are provided an opportunity to attend the fall COMMON conference through CEF sponsorship. Having students at COMMON events is a win for everyone. Students are rewarded with an opportunity to learn, connect with community members, and get a glimpse at what a potential career utilizing IBM i technology has to offer. Students go back to their local communities enthused and excited to share their experience. Their attendance also goes a long way in connecting students with potential employers. Community members are excited to see fresh faces ready, willing, and able to step forward as the next generation in the field. Community members looking to hire can also make invaluable connections with schools and educators.

Educator Sponsorship

CEF also offers sponsorship opportunities for educators to attend COMMON events. Educators attend sessions, connect with the IT community, and much more. This goes a very long way in helping keep current IBM i curriculum within schools. While attending COMMON events, educators make numerous and invaluable connections. Attending also provides them the opportunity to learn new skills which they can then take back into classroom. This helps prepare students for the workforce.

Student Scholarship

CEF provides student scholarships that are awarded annually. Students apply by filling out an application. The scholarship winner receives funding to help further their education. Throughout the years, CEF has provided scholarship funding for many students studying IT curriculum.

Ongoing Initiatives

The CEF community has many ongoing initiatives to keep encouraging students to pursue IT careers and connect with potential employers. To help raise funds, they hold numerous fundraising activities throughout the year. A favorite among the IT community is the silent auction held at the annual COMMON conference. Members have grown to look forward to the auction and it is a great fundraiser for CEF. Other initiatives include student sponsored contests, raffles at events, merchandise sales, and much more. The community support throughout the years has encouraged the growth of CEF and, with it, the opportunity to bring fresh faces to the work force.

CEF has long been a great friend to the IT community, connecting educators and students with potential employers while building up the next generation. CEF is a nonprofit organization and is always looking for volunteers. Making the effort to volunteer is both fulfilling and productive. Doing so provides opportunity to give back and in return you’re provided much more.

CEF Event


CEF has a lot of resources to offer the community including students, educators and those within the community interested in the future employees. Some of the resources CEF offers include:

  • Career Center
  • COMMON Certification
  • Online Education
  • Video LibraryRecruiting with CEF
  • Blog
  • Partners
  • IBM Academic Initiative
  • Community
  • Connect with Educators and Students
  • Fall COMMON Event
  • Annual COMMON Event
  • Booth at Events
  • Student Sessions and Activities


CEF COMMON Fall ConferenceCEF COMMON Fall Conference

What started with a few students sponsored at COMMON conference events
has grown to a large group each fall.

Support CEF

  • Sponsor a Student
  • Provide a Contribution
  • Contribute to the Silent Auction
  • Volunteer

If you are looking to fill positions don’t overlook CEF. The group has a lot to offer and is a hidden gem. Don’t hesitate to connect. You’ll benefit greatly by doing so. Whether your actively looking or planning, connect with COMMON Education Foundation and consider volunteering or supporting the foundation through initiatives or making a donation. CEF is an anchor ensuring that we do have a next generation on IBM i.

Contact COMMON Education Foundation


Guest Blogger

Laura Ubelhor Laura Ubelhor owns and operates Consultech Services, Inc., a Rochester, Michigan-based technology consulting company. She is an author of HTML for the Business Developer (MC Press, 2008) and many technology articles. She also helped write the COMMON RPG and Business Computing Professional certification exams. Laura has been involved in the Southeast Michigan IBM i User Group since 1988, serving as group president and lead organizer for the group’s annual MITEC conference. She is also a longtime volunteer for COMMON and has spent much of her career advocating for IT professional education.

Cloud Technology is More Than Just Storage

Cloud Technology is More Than Just Storage

Cloud services and technology originated as storage solutions for businesses but have advanced greatly in the past few years to include options such as cloud-based email, servers, applications, and desktops. These new cloud technologies can benefit your business by providing an updated IT infrastructure that’s secure yet offers the ease of obtaining your business data quickly and efficiently. Continue reading to learn more about a few new ways cloud technology is being introduced in today’s business world.

Cloud-Based Data Backup and Business Continuity

One of the new ways cloud-based technology is being used is providing data backup for businesses. Both small businesses and large enterprises should employ data backup strategies to avoid downtime and minimize the chance of falling victim to data breaches. Cloud-based data backup services for your business may vary depending on factors that include speed to reinstate, protection from local disasters or specific file backups. Work with your IT partner in developing a cloud-based business continuity plan, which will help protect your network data and minimize lost productivity and potential lost revenue.

Desktop and Server Virtualization

Cloud virtualization allows one to run multiple operating systems and applications on a single computer. This practice is rapidly becoming a staple solution for businesses looking to reduce total cost of ownership in expensive hardware, while increasing flexibility and redundancy. Utilizing cloud virtualization allows for more convenient transfers of applications to mobile devices like laptops, tablets and smartphones which means employees can stay connected, securely, even if they’re not in the office.

Consider Cloud Technology

The landscape of business data and network systems changes quickly, talk with your IT partner today to determine if a public, private or hybrid cloud solution is right for your business. The more your IT partner knows about your day-to-day business challenges, the better they can support you in protecting your data, employees and revenue stream.

The Next Generation – Part 3

Guest Blogger – Laura Ubelhor

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.

Connecting with Colleges

Working with colleges to scout out upcoming talent is another great way to bring the next generation onboard. However, as there are so many schools that offer IT programs, it can be difficult to narrow down your search. IBM and the COMMON Education Foundation offer resources to help focus your search and enhance your results.

There are many colleges across the country that include IBM i curriculum, and IBM will help you discover them. To find universities offering this curriculum in your area, visit the IBM i Academic Initiative website. Choose the “Participating schools” link in the right-side toolbar, and a list of schools by state will be displayed. You can also visit its Facebook page or email for more information.

The COMMON Education Foundation (CEF) may also be able to assist you in connecting with colleges in your area. You can find more information by visiting the CEF website. Also, CEF will be at the upcoming COMMON spring conference, POWERUp 2019, May 19-22 in Anaheim, CA. Later in the year, CEF will also attend the COMMON Fall Conference & Expo. If you attend either of these events, visit the Foundation booth. Otherwise, email

Beyond IBM and COMMON, you may also find success by reaching out to colleges directly. Visit their websites. Watch their YouTube presentations. Be persistent. Each college has job boards, and IT instructors or career placement staff can help connect you to students.

These are some of the colleges in the Michigan area teaching IBM i curriculum.

Other colleges teaching IBM i Curriculum.

An opportunity colleges offer to students and companies are job fairs. Click here for an example of a job fair held at Baker, a local Michigan college that offers IBM i curriculum. Also work with colleges to post jobs on career boards and consider working with career placement staff. They are excited to help their students be successful.

Offering an internship is also a way to work with local colleges. Even if the colleges in your area don’t have a specific curriculum for IBM i, there may be some IT students with the desire and aptitude needed to be a great fit. An internship is a wonderful way to determine whether a student would work well within your organization. At some colleges, internships are a curriculum requirement. A student can be provided IBM i training by using in-house mentoring or through a COMMON Academic Membership. COMMON offers FREE membership to students enrolled in a college IT program. The membership continues for two years after they graduate and provides individuals getting ready to enter the workforce with amazing IBM i specific education.

Guest Blogger

Laura Ubelhor owns and operates Consultech Services, Inc., a Rochester, Michigan-based technology consulting company. She is an author of HTML for the Business Developer (MC Press, 2008) and many technology articles. She also helped write the COMMON RPG and Business Computing Professional certification exams. Laura has been involved in the Southeast Michigan IBM i User Group since 1988, serving as group president and lead organizer for the group’s annual MITEC conference. She is also a longtime volunteer for COMMON and has spent much of her career advocating for IT professional education.

The Next Generation – Part 2

Guest Blogger – Laura Ubelhor

Read Part 1 of this series in the December 2018 issue of COMMON.CONNECT.

Local User Groups

When looking for recruits, don’t overlook local user groups. There are many local IBM i user groups across the country, bringing together community members and students. They provide opportunities such as student activities, competitions, and local conferences. Events often feature students and a career information exchange.

Because user groups encourage student growth and introduce the foundations needed for a strong IT career, they are great to reach out to when looking for new IT talent. If you don’t have a group in your local area, it is still worth finding one nearby. Often meetings and activities are made available through WebEx, allowing members to join remotely.

If you are starting from ground zero, a great start is to take one or more of the actions on this list:

  • Reach out to board members
  • Sign up for notifications
  • Join as a user group member
  • Participate in and/or encourage group student activities
  • Engage with other user groups
  • Request to have a job posted on the group site and/or featured within group correspondence
  • Sponsor student attendance at meetings or conferences

Being involved allows you to not only foster the next generation but to also position yourself to scout out future talent.

A local user group can come into play when connecting with local colleges. User groups greatly appreciate suggestions, so don’t be afraid to reach out and suggest a meet-and-greet, networking event, or other student focused activity. Examples of student activities held by the Southeast Michigan IBM i User Group (SEMIUG) include a competition where students coded a game using any tool that was found on IBM i. Another activity involved group members submitting real projects. Students then teamed up with community members to work on these projects, with the winning submission used in an organization’s production environment. We also awarded cash prizes to attract and excite students. An upcoming event planned to kick off in February 2019 includes Watson technology. It is a great way to connect and to provide a great learning experience for everyone while generating wonderful buzz within the community.

Even if you can’t actively become involved in a user group, don’t overlook local conference events. Many groups host events that invite students, and they need sponsors. For example, SEMIUG has an annual sponsored conference called MITEC. During this event, we provide an informal student meet-and-greet, providing organizations an opportunity to connect with students and local schools. The event has grown to be a great option for local organizations looking to hire. We have had significant results, finding that students are ready and seeking opportunities. Often local organizations walk away with new employees. One organization attending our event has found great success, hiring four new student team members to fill vacant positions and replace retiring employees.

Pictures speak a thousand words. The above images show students participating at the MITEC conference. This event is not one of a kind; many other events have similar offerings and goals.

Becoming active in user groups and attending their events with enthusiasm is a great way to start getting to know a potential employee due to the opportunity for networking with students. Often at the events, student attendance is sponsored. Taking the opportunity to sponsor a student is a great way to show support and pique the interest of students seeking jobs, possibly with your company. COMMON is the largest IBM i user group within the U.S. At COMMON’s Fall Conference, many students attend thanks to sponsors and the COMMON Education Foundation. So there is a great opportunity within our own organization to connect with potential recruits. Don’t close the door on national events to seek out student talent as many are ready and willing to relocate for the right opportunity.

Want to find a user group near you? It’s not hard! Check out these great directories from IBM and COMMON!

Read Part 3 of this series.

Guest Blogger

Laura Ubelhor owns and operates Consultech Services, Inc., a Rochester, Michigan-based technology consulting company. She is an author of HTML for the Business Developer (MC Press, 2008) and many technology articles. She also helped write the COMMON RPG and Business Computing Professional certification exams. Laura has been involved in the Southeast Michigan IBM i User Group since 1988, serving as group president and lead organizer for the group’s annual MITEC conference. She is also a longtime volunteer for COMMON and has spent much of her career advocating for IT professional education.