Cognitive computing

Share via AddThis
Posted on August 8, 2013

What is cognitive computing?

Cognitive computing systems learn and interact naturally with people to extend what either man or machine could do on their own. They help human experts make better decisions by penetrating the complexity of Big Data.

Big Data growth is accelerating as more of the world’s activity is expressed digitally, increasing in volume, speed and uncertainty. Most data now comes in unstructured forms such as video, images, symbols and natural language. A new computing model is needed in order to process and make sense of it.

Cognitive computing systems are not based on programs that predetermine every answer or action needed to perform a function or set of tasks; rather, they are trained using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms to sense, predict, infer and, in some ways, think.

Cognitive computing systems get better over time as they build knowledge and learn a domain – its language and terminology, its processes and its preferred methods of interacting. Early cognitive systems are building domain expertise and more human-friendly interaction models in fields such as healthcare, banking, education and retail.

The first cognitive computing system: Watson

The first cognitive computer was Watson, which debuted in a televised Jeopardy! challenge where it bested the show’s two greatest champions. The challenge for Watson was to answer questions posed in every nuance of natural language, such as puns, synonyms and homonyms, slang, and jargon.

Watson was not connected to the Internet for the match. It only knew what it had amassed through years of persistent interaction and learning from a large set of unstructured knowledge. Using machine learningstatistical analysis and natural language processing to find and understand the clues in the questions, Watson then compared possible answers, by ranking its confidence in their accuracy, and responded – all in about three seconds.

Newer generations of Watson are currently being trained in oncology diagnosis for healthcare professionals, and in customer service as a support representative.

The first cognitive computing system: Watson

The first cognitive computer was Watson, which debuted in a televised Jeopardy! challenge where it bested the show’s two greatest champions. The challenge for Watson was to answer questions posed in every nuance of natural language, such as puns, synonyms and homonyms, slang, and jargon.

Watson was not connected to the Internet for the match. It only knew what it had amassed through years of persistent interaction and learning from a large set of unstructured knowledge. Using machine learningstatistical analysis and natural language processing to find and understand the clues in the questions, Watson then compared possible answers, by ranking its confidence in their accuracy, and responded – all in about three seconds.

Newer generations of Watson are currently being trained in oncology diagnosis for healthcare professionals, and in customer service as a support representative.

Domain expertise

Unlike expert systems of the past which required rules to be hard coded into a system by a human expert, cognitive computers can process natural language and unstructured data and learn by experience, much in the same way we do. While they’ll have deep domain expertise, instead of replacing human experts, cognitive computers will act as a decision support system and help them make decisions, whether in healthcare, finance or customer service.

Computers that can sense the natural world

Even with the processing power and algorithms to make sense of a large volume of unstructured data, computers need a way to interact with the natural world to consume that raw data. Image recognition and speech recognition give computers the eyes and ears to understand our world. Through computer vision, natural language processing and text mining they process what they see and hear, allowing them to extract meaning and decode human expression.

Communicating complexity

Our brains are amazing – but when faced with processing an ever growing barrage of data surrounding us, our capacity suddenly seems very finite. Cognitive computing can help push those boundaries of human cognition. By using visual analytics and data visualizationtechniques, cognitive computers can display data in a visually compelling way that enlightens humans and helps them make decisions based on data. The same image recognition and speech recognition that allows a computer to make sense of unstructured data also allows it to interact more seamlessly with humans. It provides a feedback loop for machines and man to learn from and teach one another.

 

Source: IBM