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Required reading: Only Humans May Apply

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I’ve been reading Only Humans May Apply, a new book by Tom Davenport and Julia Kirby.  This witty, well-researched and highly readable book makes a case for cognitive computing as augmentation for humans, rather than as a replacement for them through job automation.  Although it cites plenty of scary numbers about jobs that will be lost, that’s just a springboard for presenting five strategies for surviving the evolution to the cognitive computing era.  Each strategy forces you to consider what kind of person you are, what skills you’ll need, and where jobs like this are likely to be found. There are examples given for each.

This is much more than a self help book, though.  It gives thoughtful answers to questions like:

  •        Where do humans fit in?
  •        What can humans do that computers can’t?
  •        Why do humans need help in handling overwhelming amounts of information or making decisions in complex, ambiguous situations?
  •        How should managers use cognitive technologies, what’s the best way to roll them out? How do they select the most effective starting points?
  •        What do governments and educational systems need to do to plan for and cope with these technologies?  How must they change?

The book is pithy, fact-filled and engaging.  The strategies are what both knowledge workers and managers need to prepare themselves for the changes in the workplace that are inevitably coming.

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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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