Cognitive Computing is here to stay and IBM’s Watson is enabling it

Sandy Carter speaking

In the early days we had computers that took in punched cards as input and did stuff, then the sequential tape and then big and finally small floppy disks that today’s kids know only as the “save” icon. We then moved to Mechanical, Optical and finally SS Devices. While storage had this wonderful developing arc, what about computing? Well, we had computers that would look like snails given today’s baseline computing power that we all experience, so yes that evolved too. What we did with computers, did that evolve?

Disaster Management System

We are now living in really hectic and extremely demanding times where there is a need to rush in and out of everything, we have huge amounts of data that we churn out on a daily basis that contains a minefield of information that can actually be used to make life better. There are vital problems that can be cracked by cracking the next level of data processing.

Look at our mobile phones, they are equipped with every possible sensor, they can be a compass, a camera, a thermometer, a camera, a music player and what not. Are we utilizing these capabilities well? A fully? I think not. Similarly, we have developed state of the art cameras, screens et al, but the applications are pretty rudimentary and in some cases below par.  Where is the gap?

Very simply put, we are not allowing our computers or systems to work in the cognitive space. Meaning that while we have the applications to process images, we have not be innovative enough to actually let the cognition be a computing function. While a database says that squinting is painful to the eyes, we haven’t had applications that will actually look at you through a camera, see if you’re squinting and tell you exactly how much and how to correct it.

Take it a step further, can an app assist my doctor to diagnose what is wrong with me precisely? Can an app help me to show my system a shirt and tell me where similar or the same one is available for my size? Can governments use systems to predict natural calamities before they happen? Can flood relief be optimized and made efficient to minimize loss of life and livelihood? Can airlines use systems to check flight readiness of aircraft and maintain an optimal inventory of spare parts so the safety and operations are both handled?

Phew! Puzzling questions? Not anymore! Enter IBM Watson API, putting the power of cognitive computing in the hands of people like you and me. We can use it without any initial investment. It lives on the cloud, hence available everywhere and at all times. The results are real time. The applications range from cognitive behavior profiling for retail outlets to rural healthcare to aircraft maintenance! Yes, you can also make smart robots that understand and engage with humans! All this for free!

What more, IBM has a cloud data center working out of Chennai. So help is just a call away! I recently witnessed a sample app that looks at who is sitting in front of a screen and streams ads that are relevant to the age group of the person in front! I have seen tools like SocialBro use Watson to make informed and clear decisions that help you to optimize your social footprint!

So from me, Watson, you are welcome! It’s about time!

About Shakthi

I am a Tech Blogger, Disability Activist, Keynote Speaker, Startup Mentor and Digital Branding Consultant. Also a McKinsey Executive Panel Member. Also known as @v_shakthi on twitter. Been around Tech for two decades now.

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