The future of computing is bright. Artificial intelligence and quantum computing are just a couple of the amazing technologies currently being developed. While Google focuses its efforts on artificial intelligence, IBM has begun researching cognitive computing. It calls its efforts Watson and it looks set to revolutionise the IT world.
Cognitive systems are complex information processors which can acquire information, action it and transmit knowledge. In many ways cognitive computing is the third wave – following tabulation (1900) and programmable. systems (1950). The third wave is the progression from data to knowledge.
In a similar way to artificial intelligence, cognitive computing seeks to predict outcomes and suggest actions based on this. Traditionally computers have been there to do jobs humans are bad at but this move to cognitive computing gives them tasks we should be good at.
Under the brand Watson, IBM has developed its own cognitive computing system. In order to create Watson IBM has undertaken many acquisitions. The division has 6,000 employees – of them just 700 were hired by IBM directly, the rest were acquired.
Watson has had some successes. It infamously appeared on an episode of the US game show, Jeopardy. It played against two human champions and won by over $1000. Watson is not just for gameshows though. IBM has developed a number of solutions where its capabilities take centre stage.
There are currently four tasks IBM advertises Watson for. Firstly, Watson Explorer will explore and present relevant data, it will then analyse this to provide deeper insights. This is great for businesses which need to sift through and understand a large volume of data.
The Watson Engagement Advisor works as web support, at help desks and anything where a customer may have queries. In this setting Watson aims to understand what the customer is trying to do and then will analyse context in order to provide the most relevant solution. This system could easily replace online advisors who answer customer queries and complaints.
Watson Discovery Advisor aims to accelerate the process of discovery, meaning it would be easier to create new medicines, recipes and innovate. Using data, Discovery Advisor seeks out breakthrough insights. It has applications in a number of different industries but can generally be considered as a programme that speeds up the process of innovation.
IBM has also developed Watson for specific oncology purposes. It will analyse the patients’ medical record, search for evidence-based cures and suggest the most appropriate course of treatment. This will lead to more effective cancer treatments.