Cognitive computing is going to transform a lot of things. Among them, how humans and machines interact, how companies interface with their customers, and how cybersecurity threats are managed. In fact, its potential uses are practically limitless, although not everyone is approaching the problem in the same way. Regardless of which technologies innovators are using or planning to use, their common goal is to mimic human reasoning at machine-level scale and velocity.
Since IBM Watson won a Jeopardy! match on television in 2011, IBM commercialized its technology, expanded its set of APIs and launched a new consulting practice. In September 2015, the IBM Watson team announced it had more than 100 partners developing cognitive apps, products, and services going into market. However, IBM Watson is just one example of how companies are approaching cognitive computing.
More companies are using machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), natural language processing (NLP), or some combination of those and other technologies to make better sense of the vast volume, variety, and velocity of big data.
Some of them are adding or plan to add more types of technology to the mix, such as contextual awareness, neural networks, more sophisticated pattern recognition, visual sensing, and other technologies that, when combined, enable machines to more accurately emulate human thought and reasoning. In short, cognitive computing is a superset of technologies that are being combined in different ways to solve both general and specific problems.
However, the reasoning capabilities, matching capabilities, learning capabilities, and language-processing capabilities that will enable organizations to uncover new levels of insights may well raise a new wave of privacy and security concerns along the way.
These technologies will likely fuel the debate about the balance between humans and machines as they gain momentum, whether regarding the fear of replacing more human decision-making with automated systems or the doomsday AI threat some perceive.
On the other hand, there is a limit to what humans can do in today's real-time economy, which is why the seeds of cognitive computing are already sprouting across industries such as healthcare, financial services, and event management.
Page through this slideshow to learn how some of the capabilities are being used today.
Lisa Morgan is a freelance writer who covers big data and BI for InformationWeek. She has contributed articles, reports, and other types of content to various publications and sites ranging from SD Times to the Economist Intelligent Unit. Frequent areas of coverage include ... View Full Bio
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