Cognitive, what is cognitive?

Whenever you hear IBM Watson, you also hear the word cognitive. It is Cognitive Business, Cognitive Era, Cognitive Analytics, Cognitive Healthcare etc. What does it really mean?

Cognitive, what does it mean? The word usually used this is cognition and according to wikipedia Cognition means the following:

Cognition is the set of all mental abilities and processes related to knowledge, attention, memory and working memory, judgment and evaluation, reasoning and “computation”, problem solving and decision making, comprehension and production of language, etc. Human cognition is conscious and unconscious, concrete or abstract, as well as intuitive (like knowledge of a language) and conceptual (like a model of a language). Cognitive processes use existing knowledge and generate new knowledge.

In conclusion, we are finally entering the era of thinking and awareness (which is the original latin meaning of the word), even for computers.

Cognitive Process

A cognitive process can be divided into 4 steps

  1. Observe (learn)
  2. Interpret (hypothesis)
  3. Evaluate (reason)
  4. Decide (action, present confidence and probability etc)

Research to dive deeper into cognitive

Cognitive is not only a marketing term for selling Watson, it is actually something researchers have worked on for a very long time, this since quite a few IBM researchers work on how the brain works. In the context of this post it naturally gets really intersting when computers and software starts to adopt cognitive functionality. .

According to Arvin Krishna, Senior Vice President of IBM Research, a cognitive technology needs to:

  1. Learn at scale
  2. Reason with purpose
  3. Interact with humans naturally
  4. Has an objective (this bullet was actually not said by Arvin but by Dr John Kelly in a talk at Cognitive Collaquium NY recently)

This is crisp and easy to understand (even though understanding how the hell they got the software to work like that is another thing).

IBM have always been very generous about posting their research online. It can be tricky to find, but it is out there. In terms of cognitive it has its own section on the IBM Research site. So either start on the IBM Research Cognitive Computing section or at the IBM Research homepage. There is droves of info to read up on and hours of video to watch.

Cognitive lingo

Cognitive analytics
A set of technologies and processes that analyze data for the purposes of learning, contextualization, and making recommendations.

Cognitive business
An IBM strategy that builds on digital business and digital intelligence with systems that can understand, reason, and learn to leverage data to create deeper engagement and personalization, enhanced expertise, and cognitive products, services, operations, and processes.

Cognitive computing
A category of technologies that uses natural language processing and machine learning to enable people and machines to interact more naturally to extend and magnify human expertise and cognition.

Cognitive environment
An infrastructure that uses specialized software agents and devices that act as one shared integrated resource, enabling fast and efficient human-computer collaboration.

Cognitive system
A category of technologies that uses natural language processing and machine learning to enable people and machines to interact more naturally to extend and magnify human expertise and cognition. Watson is an example of a cognitive system.

This is also the second time I borrow a top picture from IBM, this one from their campaign-site “Outthink” that is out there to enlighten us about Cognitive. It is a typical campaign including a darn cool commercial with Bob Dylan talking to Watson..

7 Comments

[…] Was that not possible prior with the classic big data / analytics tools we hear all about. Well, I would argue NO. This since most of the data in healthcare research and medical records are simply just text and images. Traditional, yet smart, analytics tools cannot read that kind of data, Watson can. it is not only about being able to read the information, it is also about actually understanding it, learning from it and draw conclusions from it, that makes the big difference and also what makes Watson so impressive. Agian, Watson think and acts a lot like a human, or the work IBM is pushing, being cognitive. […]

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