Cognitive Computing: A Definition and Some Thoughts

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Computers are one of those artifacts of modern life that we love to hate. They are powerful, pervasive, intrusive and, let’s face it, clumsy to use. Today’s applications require us to break down complex, subtle ideas into simplistic statements. We must learn arcane codes to speak their language. They are incapable of assisting us in an evolving knowledge voyage because their understanding breaks down as our context or intentions change.

Quietly, though, researchers have been attacking some of those barriers. Using tools like natural language understanding, search and categorization, visualization, data analysis, psychology, statistics, research in how the brain works and studies in human information interaction, they began to construct a new type of computing system. The work has been evolving for years, and it adds research in artificial intelligence, game theory and message understanding as well. IBM’s Watson changed the game, though, when it won Jeopardy in 2011. With that event, “cognitive computing” grabbed the spotlight, spawning books, articles, conferences, speeches, hopes and fears.

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The above article was written by Sue Feldman and Hadley Reynolds; it appears in the issue October 2014, [Vol 23, Issue 10]


About the Author:

Sue Feldman is Co-founder and Managing Director at the Cognitive Computing Consortium. She also is PrAs VP for Content Technologies at IDC, Sue developed and led research on search, text analytics and unified access technologies and markets. Her most recent book, The Answer Machine was published in 2012. Her current research is on use cases and guidelines for adopting cognitive computing to solve real world problems.
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