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John Kelly, ‘Father’ Of Watson Computer, Retires From IBM

Once called the ‘father’ of IBM’s Watson computer, Kelly has ‘played numerous significant technical and business roles driving IBM‘s leadership’ in semiconductors, supercomputers and AI, according to the company.

IBM veteran John Kelly III, who helped develop the company’s famous Watson AI computer, is retiring from Big Blue after working there for more than 40 years.

The Armonk, N.Y.-based company announced on Friday that Kelly, an executive vice president who leads IBM’s Watson Health Unit, will retire on Dec. 31. The company, which announced the news in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, said it may call on Kelly’s services in the future for a fee of $7,800 per day, or $3,900 for half a day, as an independent contractor.

[Related: IBM Board Appoints CEO Arvind Krishna As Chairman, Replacing Rometty]

Once called the “father” of IBM’s Watson computer, Kelly has “played numerous significant technical and business roles driving IBM‘s leadership” in semiconductors, supercomputers and AI, according to Kelly’s biography on the company’s website.

Among his contributions was the work Kelly and his team accomplished in AI and cognitive computing with Watson, which he joined in the computer’s public debut on the game show Jeopardy! in 2011. “This demonstration awoke the world to the potential of AI,” IBM said.

Kelly continued working on initiatives around Watson’s evolving capabilities, leading the expansion of the system into a platform for health, security, analytics, IoT and financial services, according to IBM.

Up until his retirement, Kelly had been the leader of IBM’s Watson Health unit. He was also focusing on enterprise-wise partnerships for intellectual property, security, privacy, academia and government.

Kelly, who first joined IBM in 1980, is credited with keeping IBM as the leader in U.S. patents for the last 26 years. He had previously led the development of the company’s microelectronics and storage technologies, products and services.

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