AI vs. Cognitive Computing: How do YOU decide?

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Artificial intelligence (AI) and cognitive computing are distinct fields, though the terms are sometimes used interchangeably to refer to the ability of computers to reason. The differences in the fields may seem subtle, but they have distinct approaches and goals. AI advocates are convinced that their machines will provide augmented intelligence that will surpass humans in accuracy and insight or strength and agility. Cognitive computing advocates say that “cognitive assistants” are tools that handle volumes of data and exhaustive rounds of analytics, but humans remain firmly in charge of the process for the foreseeable future.

In KM World magazine, Hadley Reynolds considers how each approach might engage with a person facing a major life decision. He uses an imagined scenario of a career change decision to illustrate these differences. The AI assistant will be able to automatically assess a job seeker’s skills, determine where he fits into the job market, find a position that matches his skills, negotiate pay and benefits, and inform the job seeker that a decision has been made. A cognitive assistant will present the job seeker with potential career paths and the advantages of each, inform her of any additional education requirements, give her salary comparison data, and find open job positions for her to apply to – all in an easy-to-digest form. But the responsibility of the decision remains with the job seeker.

Though we are still working on the technology to make either scenario a reality, cognitive computing is about how we can use machines to make smarter decisions ourselves. AI would propose that machines are in the better position to make the calls on our decision paths.


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