Mark Davison at Inforum 2017 in New York – IBM’s Watson may be named after the company’s first CEO and Google’s AlphaGo because, well, it could play Go. But in naming its first entrance into artificial intelligence Coleman, Infor has acknowledged one of the unsung heroines of the US’s space race.
In an official statement, the company says that the name “Coleman” was chosen to honour Katherine Coleman Johnson, a physicist and mathematician whose critical calculations helped man reach the moon.
In a video precursor to the launch of the AI platform at Inforum, it was said that John Glenn, the US’s first man in space, refused to enter the cockpit before Johnson had checked the space agency’s calculations.
Once she had, he strapped himself in.
Johnson excelled at maths and science from a young age, overcoming the obstacles of segregation to become an essential figure in the US Space Program.
Johnson, whose story was depicted in the 2016 film “Hidden Figures”, is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She has a passion for STEM (science, technology, engineering, math), and is an inspiration for generations of engineers and scientists, the Infor statement says.
In the same press statement, the family of Katherine Johnson say: “We are excited and honoured that Infor would choose our matriarch to help them represent innovation, analytical might, and a continued push for excellence. She symbolises for many a beacon of resilience, a source of courage, and a promise of what’s possible.
“For Katherine Coleman Johnson, the value is in knowledge shared, not in what is known.”
Family members attended the official launch of Coleman yesterday and were given a standing ovation by the more than 6 000 delegates.