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De-mystifying Cognitive Computing Part Two: Artificial Intelligence vs. Cognitive Computing

Posted by Colleen Balda on Jul 5, 2017 3:21:31 PM

Often in parallel with cognitive, you hear artificial intelligence (AI) referenced which seems to blur the lines of distinction between the two. In part one of the de-mystifying series, I discuss the driving factors for cognitive computing, let’s now break down this notion that AI and cognitive computing are one and the same.  In fact, there is an explicit difference between AI and cognitive computing.

AI could be considered an umbrella term for all methods, theories, algorithms and technologies that enable computer systems to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence.  Implied in this definition is machine learning, computer vision, robotics, natural language processing which are all inter-related. AI enables a computer to be smart: in fact, smarter than humans. The individual technologies, on the other hand, that are performing specific tasks that facilitate human intelligence are called cognitive technologies.

Cognitive computing simulates human thought processes in a computerized model. Cognitive computing involves self-learning systems that use data mining, pattern recognition and natural language processing to mimic the way the human brain works. Cognitive computing brings together a number of applications to reveal context and find answers hidden in large volumes of information. The majority of data that organizations deal with is unstructured. Making sense of it—to make it available for your business priorities, namely, for decision making—is beyond our human capacity.

Decision maker versus decision influencer

IBM is very careful not to use artificial intelligence to describe its Watson products. Here is a good example of why: Let us imagine a scenario where a person is looking for a decision on career change. An AI assistant will automatically assess the job seeker’s skills, find a relevant job where their skills match the position, negotiate pay and benefits, and at the closing stage it will inform the person that a decision has been made on their behalf. A cognitive assistant, on the other hand, will suggest potential career paths to the job seeker, besides furnishing the person with important details like additional education requirements, salary comparison data, and open job positions. However, in this case the final decision must be still taken by the job seeker.

Approach may differ but the goal to make smarter decisions is the same

In simpler words, cognitive computing helps us make smarter decisions on our own leveraging the machines, while AI is rooted in the idea that machines can make better decisions on our behalf.

Next up in the de-mystifying cognitive computing blog series is connecting who and what can benefit from smarter decisions generated by machines. This leads to an exploration of data science and how data scientists may benefit from cognitive technologies.

Tags: IoT, IBM, Technologies, Big Data and Analytics, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Data Mining, AI, Cognitive Computing, Data Science, Watson