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And You Thought The Term Cognition Only Applies To Humans

For many, the terms artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing, and big data analytics are just abstruse buzz words. You add to that a new term “cognitive computing” and you are likely to draw a blank stare. What the hell is that? I thought cognition is a human faculty you may ask.

And yet, cognitive computing (or computing intelligence if you prefer) is likely to revolutionize many markets and industries – from the life sciences to financial markets.

We are talking about a new class of systems that learn from experience (based on accumulated evidence and without the need for reprogramming) and produce new and better insights, beyond anything we could achieve just with our own mental faculties. They augment human knowledge with artificial intelligence by sorting through and organizing massive amounts of data (that is continually added to) before attempting analysis in an iterative manner which increases in accuracy with each successive iteration. Finding meaningful patterns in huge amounts of non-uniform data that is constantly being added to is something most human brains can’t handle efficiently. This is especially so when the process is non-deterministic, in the sense that it does not have a predictable outcome from known inputs.

The basic concepts underlying this have been around for decades: natural language processing, machine learning, neural networks, or machine vision. It is only now, though, that these concepts are beginning to be applied in ways that can be used to augment day-to-day decision-making.

IBM Watson is a case in point for how this new category is being defined. With an investment of more than $1bn, IBM’s cognitive computing platform is creating an ecosystem where apps and systems interact with humans via natural language to help make rapid and informed decisions.

Watch this space!

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