The New Era of Cognitive Computing

Monday, June 17, 2013

Artificial Intelligence
According to IBM, Cognitive computing systems like Watson learn and interact naturally with people to extend what either man or machine could do on their own.

Cognitive computing systems are systems that learn and interact naturally with people to extend what either man or machine could do on their own, according to IBM.

Cognitive computing systems like Watson, help human experts make better decisions by penetrating the complexity of Big Data.

Big Data is increasing in volume, speed and uncertainty. It comes in unstructured forms such as video, image and text. To deal with this onslaught of infomration, new types of computing system are needed in order to understand, process and make sense of it all.

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 learning, statistical 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.

Now, newer generations of Watson are currently being trained in oncology diagnosis for healthcare professionals, and in customer service as a support representative.
Cognitive computers are not programmed to perform a function or set of tasks; rather, they use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms to sense, predict and, in some ways, think. This allows these systems to comprehend and draw insight from Big Data. In order to handle this type of processing, cognitive computers require new hardware innovations in which data processing is distributed throughout the system and memory and processing are more tightly integrated.

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Cognitive computing isn't about the computer becoming the primary expert as much as assisting the human experts. By having deep domain expertise in fields such as healthcare, banking and commerce, and using data visualization techniques, cognitive computing helps humans to solve complex problems and make sense of big data. Cognitive computing systems get smarter the more they are used.

Dr. John E. Kelly III is senior vice president and director of IBM Research. In this position he directs the worldwide operations of IBM Research, with approximately 3,000 scientists and technical employees at 12 laboratories in 10 countries around the world, and helps guide IBM's overall technical strategy.

Dr. Kelly's top priorities as head of IBM Research are to stimulate innovation in key areas of information technology, and quickly bring those innovations into the marketplace to sustain and grow IBM's existing business; to create the new businesses of IBM's future, and to apply these innovations to help IBM clients succeed.

IBM Research breakthroughs have helped to create and shape the world's computing industry, while more recent breakthroughs, including Deep Blue computing systems, breaking the Petaflop barrier, and the introduction of Watson, the deep question answering natural-language computer system, are blazing the computing trails of the future.

In the video below, Computer History Museum CEO John Hollar moderated a fascinating conversation with Kelly on topics ranging from his background and the path that led him to IBM, the history of research there, IBM's Watson and cognitive computing, to the newest lab in Nairobi, Kenya. Africa, IBM says, is destined to become an important growth market for the company. "Africa is a complex place," Dr. Kelly said. "But we feel it is on the cusp, at an inflection point. It's going to take off."

SOURCE  The Computer History Museum

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