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Today’s world is awash in computer and internet data. We have smartphones, laptops, tablets, smartwatches, smart thermostats and even medical devices that record patient data remotely. The internet has become an essential part of our daily routine, enabling us to connect with others who share our interests and gain insights into the world around us. Cognitive computing is a general term for the combination of communication and computation that enables people to make sense of vast amounts of information through their senses — concepts, memories, behavior — rather than through receptors or processors. Cognitive computing uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and other methods of computation to tackle difficult problems. It’s one of the fastest-growing areas of research in artificial intelligence (AI) and related fields such as computer vision and natural language processing are taking off too.
What is cognitive computing?
Cognition is the study of minds. It encompasses the study of the ways that people process information, the brain’s capacity for processing information, and the ways that information gets stored and expressed in the world. It’s the branch of artificial intelligence that studies how people make sense of information and uses that sense to make informed decisions. It’s not just about how humans process information. It’s about the way that humans process information, their emotional responses to information, and the ways that this information gets processed and stored. A large portion of cognitive computing research is focused on the way that humans process visual information — color, texture and other elements that make up visual information. Humans are colorblind, meaning that they see only a minimum of visual information in each color group. They don’t know which colors to focus on, and they don’t have accurate memories of which colors are there in the world. In other words, humans aren’t only colorblind, they have a bizarrely low capacity for recognizing other colors. Color blindness is connected to other cognitive disabilities such as cognitive aging, which can reduce the speed at which our brains can form new memories.
How does cognitive computing work?
Simply put: humans are special. We are naturally gifted at using our brains to process visual information, and our brains have an amazing ability to store and express information in new ways. Humans have an incredible capacity for imagining and creating new realities, and a voracious appetite for new information. The more complex the problem, the more complex the solution. This is why the human brain is so powerful at generating new solutions: it can complexify information to a greater or lesser extent. When we see a car, we experience a variety of visual information, including different shades of the color red. When we see a car, we also experience a variety of different types of paint, as well as different size and shape vehicles, as well as other things associated with the car. Likewise, when we’re faced with a difficult problem, we can often see a higher level of complexity in the solution than when we see a simple solution.
What can be done with cognitive computing in practice?
Visual processing — the process of storing visual information, including visual color, texture, and patterns — is one of the areas of cognitive computing that has the most promise in helping people recognize colors, think about complicated problems, and make accurate memories. In fact, cognitive computing could help in a number of different ways, including improvingeneurys (a.k.a. the recognition of numbers), improving memory (referring to the ability to learn), and improving visual cortex plasticity, which means that our brains are easier to train to respond rapidly to new information. Beyond just good visual recognition, cognitive computing could also help in the areas of better short- and long-term memory, as well as other areas such as language, creative thinking, and empathy. It’s also possible that cognitive computing could help in some areas of complex problem solving, such as when trying to design a computer program.
Benefits of Cognitive Computing
The benefits of cognitive computing are plenty. The first and most obvious benefit is that it can help in the recognition of colors. As mentioned above, visual color recognition is incredibly complex — especially for the blind — and there is no means to directly access the visual information that comes from the retina. Cogmed, an artificial intelligence program created to aid the visually impaired, has been able to identify colors and their commonly misspelled variations. Furthermore, humans are extremely good at forming long-term memories, especially those related to specific topics. It has been estimated that the human brain has about 10 million new memories each year, and it’s estimated that the human brain has about 100,000 to perhaps 200,000 new memories every day. It’s this ability to hold onto past experiences that has been called the “foundational capacity” for long-term memory, or FTM. This means that the ability to recognize familiar objects and people and to hold onto memories of those people and events, including those that were very recent, is an essential component of long-term memory.
#ConsIDER: How to use cognitive computing in your business
Like any other science, cognitive computing can be applied to almost any problem. The problem? Practically anything. Practicing a few simple skills each day can help you become more productive and accurate at every level. It could also help you feel more in control of your life.