Advances in Cognitive Computing
One of the greatest challenges facing most businesses is how to make effective use of enormous and growing volumes of data. We often refer to this as a Big Data problem. The statistics are shocking – 90% of the world’s data was created in the last two years, while 80% of the worlds data is unstructured. In the medical field alone the amount of information is doubling every 5 years, yet healthcare providers have precious little time to keep up with all of this information. Unstructured information, especially human knowledge captured in text, is a challenging resource to leverage in computer systems.
To address these challenges, IBM is working on the next era of computing systems, called Cognitive Computing. Cognitive systems represent the third major era of computing, following the first era of tabulating machines and the second era of programmable computers. Cognitive systems represent a whole new approach to solving complex data and information analysis problems, leveraging deep analytics over huge amounts of data, learning capabilities that allow the system to automatically learn and improve over time, and natural interfaces between humans and computers.
The IBM Watson system is one of the first systems built as a Cognitive Computing system. Watson leverages deep analytics over text and other unstructured data sources to extract meaning from data, and applies inference and reasoning to leverage that meaning to solve complex problems. As a first step towards Cognitive Computing, Watson expands the boundaries of human cognition by providing humans with fast, efficient access to relevant knowledge buried in huge volumes of unstructured data. This capability can be used to support complex problem solving, such as diagnosis and treatment in medicine.
Watson provides significant value by leveraging hundreds of analytics that apply natural language processing, information retrieval, text analysis, knowledge representation and reasoning, and machine learning, to understand complex problems, generate possible answers, and evaluate evidence from unstructured data. This processing is inspired by the human problem solving process, and provides a look into the future where Cognitive Computing systems will perform tasks previously limited to humans, and allow humans to apply their immense cognitive capabilities to significantly more complex problems, leveraging enormous volumes of data.
by Eric Brown – GGCS enriching life session speaker and panelist
Director, Watson Technologies, IBM Research