IBM Watson – Cognitive Computing

Source: Forbes, Nov 2013

In a few years, cognitive systems like Watson will be accessible by everyone from people shopping online for the best healthcare insurance for their families to medical researchers hunting for a cure for a particular type of cancer. These machines won’t be our adversaries. Instead, they’ll augment our knowledge and creativity with skills that they’re really good at, including computation, memory, speed-reading and the ability to find insightful patterns in huge quantities of data.

Cognitive machines will democratize expertise.

They’ll also help us think more clearly and rationally. In his influential book, “Thinking Fast and Slow,” psychologist Daniel Kahneman, divides human thinking into two types; the fast mode, where we think automatically and intuitively; and the slow mode, where we think rationally.

In the book, he writes that it would be impractical to have our slow-thinking mode constantly observing our fast/intuitive mode and correcting us when we make mistakes. But what if we used cognitive systems to provide checks and balances on our impulses, biases and intuitions? I believe cognitive systems will be able to play this role without interfering with the natural flow of our lives.

Cognitive computers will help make us wiser.

First, we have to design cognitive computers so they are trustworthy advisors, and, to achieve that, we have to enable them to think and learn more like we do. Another way of expressing it: Machines have to understand not just words and concepts, but the science of the domains in which we are asking them to operate.

The next step is teaching the system to understand the science of the healthcare domain.

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