What is Cognitive Computing


Definition of Cognitive Computing

According to the Cognitive Computing Consortium, cognitive computing is designed to more closely mimic the problem-solving processes of the human brain. As a result, cognitive computing is able to handle problems that involve context and gray areas rather than adhering to strict rules. In particular, cognitive computers are adaptive, interactive, iterative and stateful, and contextual.

  • Adaptive: the computer is able to handle new information in real-time and able to process information even when it is ambiguous or unpredictable
  • Interactive: the computer is able to interact in ways people find comfortable while being able to interact with other types of technology
  • Iterative and stateful: the computer is able to find or request additional information as needed and ”remembers” information from previous interactions with a user
  • Contextual: the computer is able to understand not only the syntax of requests but considers additional sources of information, such as location, or even sensory inputs, such as voice commands

Now that we have a clear definition of cognitive computing and the ways that it could handle a wider variety of tasks and problems than traditional computing, let’s look at some real examples of cognitive computing.

IBM’s Watson

Arguably the most famous example of a cognitive computer, Watson earned acclaim when he outperformed the two top Jeopardy contestants on television. He exhibited many of the characteristics of cognitive computing, such as being able to understand nuances in language and using multiple sources of information to pinpoint the correct answer. But Watson is only a portion of what cognitive computing can do or could look like.

Applications of Cognitive Computing

Deepmind and Healthcare

Deepmind is a cognitive computing software designed to provide advanced technology to help nurses and doctors perform their jobs more effectively and efficiently. By being able to synthesize test results with existing medical knowledge and the patient’s health history, doctors and nurses can make more accurate evaluations and diagnoses, and they are able to refer patients to a specialist sooner when necessary.

AI such as Siri, Alexa, and Cortana

Although sometimes not regarded as true cognitive computing, these technological aids share many similarities to cognitive computers, in that they are able to respond to voice commands and understand natural language while synthesizing this information with your past requests and geographical location to produce a solution that makes sense for your context.