5 Things To Know About Cognitive Systems and IBM Watson
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Cognitive systems, such as IBM Watson, can transform how organizations think, act, and operate in the future. IBM CTO, Fellow, and Vice President Rob High is a key member of the IBM Watson Solution Leadership team. He's published an IBM Redbooks Solution Guide, Redpaper, and video that explains what cognitive systems are, and provides some fascinating behind the scenes information on how Watson works.
Here are some of the highlights:
1. There's more data to understand than ever before
The volume of data is exploding – 90 percent of all the data in the world was produced in the last two years alone. And 80 percent of all the information in the world is unstructured information, which includes text such as literature, reports, articles, research papers, theses, emails, blogs, tweets, forums, chats, and text messages. We need computers that can understand this flood of information so that we can get more out of it. That's where cognitive systems can help.
2. We have noses that run and feet that smell. Traditional computing systems don't understand why
Traditional computing systems have a hard time understanding types of information that humans can process easily. Our language is full of innuendos, idiosyncrasies, idioms, and ambiguity. How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, but a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? Why do we fill in a form by filling it out? Most natural language processing systems use a series of well formed rules to make sense of this information. When presented with a narrow focus these systems can be fairly precise, but do not perform well when the parameters are expanded.
3. IBM Watson is a cognitive system that can make sense of unstructured information
Cognitive systems mimic how humans reason and process information. IBM Watson is an example of a cognitive system. It offers deep natural language processing that focuses much more on context rather than following a set of pre-defined rules. It assesses as much context as possible from both the question posed and from its available knowledge base to form a response.
4. Watson knows all about Hannibal Lecter
In 2011, Watson famously appeared as a contestant on the US game show Jeopardy! where it handsomely beat two of the show's best ever contestants (it's winning total was more than three times that of second placed Ken Jennings). The show poses answers, and contestants must correctly identify the question being asked. For example, one puzzle Watson faced was “Jodie Foster took this home for her role in Silence of the Lambs”. Watson correctly inferred that in this content “took this home” meant “winning an Oscar”. Sometimes “took this home” infers a cold, groceries, or any number of things. Watson's cognitive system enabled it to behave with human-like characteristics and correctly understand the context.
5. Watson isn't just for game shows
Watson is already been used by many organizations to solve business problems by using statistical analytics, rules and business processing, collaboration, and reporting. Examples abound. In healthcare, Watson can analyze and combine a patient’s conditions and history to help create treatments that are specific to this patient, resulting in better and faster care. In finance, Watson can help businesses improve risk and valuation processes. In customer service, Watson can help call centers provide correct answers quickly and accurately.
For much more, see Cognitive Systems and IBM Watson at the IBM Redbooks web site and learn from Rob High how Watson and cognitive systems are changing the world and giving computers human-like capabilities to understand information.
Martin Keen is an IBM Redbooks Project Leader. He works with technical experts to create books, guides, blogs, and videos. Follow @MartinRTP on Twitter.