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Cognitive Computing

Ever since appearing in the hit game show Jeopardy, IBM Watson has amazed viewers all over the world. Human contestants had no chance against IBM’s new supercomputer. But what is Watson exactly? Is Watson a robot? Is this the future of computers?

IBM Watson is a technology platform that is able to analyze unstructured data. Watson uses natural language processing and machine learning to make sense of the huge amounts of information available today. 80% of all data nowadays is unstructured. Unstructured data includes data from many different sources such as social media posts, blog posts, articles, reports, and enterprise system data. Watson can even answer complex questions. For example, in the Jeopardy game show, the computer was able to understand the dynamics of the game and responded correctly “What is Las Vegas” to the question “This town is known as ‘sin city’ & its downtown is ‘glitter gulch’”.

IBM Watson is not just any artificial intelligence. It uses cognitive computing to simulate the human thought process. It learns and is able to understand natural language with grammar, expressions, slang and all the diverse aspects of spoken language. The difference between Watson and a robot is that the supercomputer is able to reason unlike any computer has done before. Just like when humans make a choice, Watson is able to weigh out the options before making a decision. IBM Watson is smarter than any human being, as it can hold more information than the human mind and can analyze it in just seconds. In Jeopardy, it only took two to three seconds for Watson to find an answer from the millions of documents it has learned.

How can Watson benefit your business? First of all, it can easily find solutions to any questions you or your customers might have. It does this by pulling crucial information from all the records that are inside it. Lastly, the supercomputer is able to link different pieces of information into patterns, relate them to each other and come up with unique insights.

IBM Watson can provide substantial benefit to many different fields such as businesses, healthcare, developers and universities – just to name few, the possibilities are endless. For example, it is currently working with top universities to discover new medicines and cures.

We are entering a new era of cognitive computing. Although currently Watson is unable to answer open-ended questions, cognitive systems are evolving and will soon be able to mimic the human brain even better. In the future, Watson can help to solve the world’s most difficult problems. The three types of capabilities for cognitive systems are engagement, decision and discovery. Engagement means how humans communicate with the system – the system uses knowledge from experts to learn more. This is why both need each other and together humans and Watson can be so much more than alone. Secondly, the decisions made by cognitive systems are evidence-based and constantly improving. Finally, the discovery aspect means that cognitive systems can discover insights that even geniuses cannot uncover.

Software Nation’s programmers are currently working with IBM Watson on a project that has never been done before. Check back for new posts and insights on this supercomputer.