Cognitive Computing Overview

The field of cognitive computing continues to grow rapidly, best represented by IBM’s Watson platform. Cognitive computing includes elements of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and signal processing. It generally requires a large amount of processing power and software with learning capabilities. There are a number of important considerations about this technology.


Cognitive computing is used for a variety of different purposes. One popular use that is spreading wildly is for natural language chatbots and virtual assistants. These learn natural ways to respond to questions and find the best possible answer when humans answer them. Another important use is for cyber threat detection. AI software learn the rapidly evolving hacking techniques and pro-actively take steps to defend the network without any manual intervention. There are a number of other uses in the areas of medicine, finance, law and other areas.

New Solutions and Products

Cognitive solutions continue to evolve and transform. Companies like IBM, Amazon, Apple, HP, Google, Microsoft and others are creating powerful new features. The most common use is natural language processing. This has evolved into products like Amazon’s Echo, Microsoft’s Cortana, Apple’s Siri, Google HomePod and others. These devices and software have a deep database that is constantly evolving based on the input from tens of millions of users. Over time, they become more sophisticated and useful at answering questions, providing services and organizing information.

What’s Next

This technology will continue to make more significant advances. Right now, scientists are using cognitive computing to try to predict ground breaking medical formulations. This will hopefully radically reduce the time and money required to create a new drug to cure disease. Physicists are also using this technology to compress huge amounts of data gathered from observing the universe. They are hoping the AI can make insights on the origins of galaxies, composition of dark matter and many other questions.

Artificial Intelligence – The Number One IT Career Path

There is good news for those who have decided to acquire artificial intelligence skills as part of their IT career path. IBM Watson gurus will be pleased to learn that AR and VR skills are in the top spot of in-demand skills for at least the next couple of years. According to IDC, in the near future, total spending on products and services that incorporate AR and/or VR concepts will soar from 11.4 billion recorded in 2017, to almost 215 billion by the year 2021 — a phenomenal amount of growth that is going to require a steady stream of IT professionals that can fill the need for these widely expanding fields and others. Read on to learn more about the top five IT careers that show nothing less than extreme promise for anyone willing to reach for the rising IT stars.

Computer Vision Engineer

According to the popular job search site Indeed, the top IT position most in demand for the next few years goes to computer vision engineers. These types of positions will require expertise in the creation and continued improvement in computer vision and machine learning algorithms, along with analytics designed to discover, classify, and monitor objects.

Machine Learning Engineer

If vision engineers are responsible for envisioning new ideas, then machine learning engineers are responsible for the actual creation and execution of the resulting products and services. Machine learning engineers actually develop the AI systems and machines that will understand and apply their built-in knowledge.

Network Analyst

As AI continues to grow exponentially, so does the IoT. This means an increased demand for network analysts who can apply their expertise to the expansion of networks required to support a variety of smart devices.

Security Analyst

As AR and VR configurations become more sophisticated, along with more opportunities for exploitation through more smart devices, cyber attacks will become more sophisticated as well. Security analysts will need strong skills in AR, VR and the IoT in order to protect an organization’s valuable assets.

Cloud Engineer

Behind all the scenes is the question of how these newer concepts will affect cloud services. The current expectations are that solutions will require a mixture of both in-house technology and outside sources. Cloud engineers will need to thoroughly familiarize themselves with AR and VR concepts in order to give them the necessary support.

What Is Cognitive Banking?

Cognitive banking is the use of advanced technology to make banks more effective. By using machine learning, AI and data science, financial institutions use data gathered from customers and internal sources to optimize processes.

How Does Cognitive Banking Work?

Banks already collect significant data on interactions and events. Cloud-based machines that understand natural language can learn from all of this data. A machine that has accumulated considerable knowledge can give evidence-based advice to both customers and bank employees. By using these techniques, a bank can provide more value to customers while improving its internal procedures.

Benefit to Customers

When a cognitive system analyzes real customer interaction data, it can gain insights from data by identifying patterns that lead to customer satisfaction. When banks allow it to interact directly with their clients, further learning continues with each new interaction. The system can learn how to provide a better user experience. It gives smart advice to users on how to optimize their finances using the products the bank offers. In this way, cognitive systems can provide true value to clients.

How Banks Benefit

Banks that adopt cognitive banking strategies are well prepared to adapt to a changing future. Hard-coding of procedures becomes unnecessary as they are constantly evolving to fit the needs of the bank. Smart machines are on the front line of customer interaction instead of human operators. This both saves money and has the potential to provide a more optimized experience for clients. Smart machines can also learn banking regulations and security protocols to determine in real-time how well the bank is meeting these requirements. Employees receive notifications if the system needs changes to meet regulations or improve security.


In the rapidly evolving banking industry, banks need strategies to stay competitive. The use of cognitive banking techniques improves customer satisfaction while allowing banks to run more efficiently. For more information on cognitive banking, check out this page from IBM.

IBM’s Watson is Becoming a Crime Fighter

Sherlock Holmes and WatsonIn Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, Dr. Watson was the great detective’s trusted sidekick in fighting crime. Now, with IBM’s help, Watson has become a crime-fighting detective in his (actually its) own right.

IBM’s newest cognitive computing offering is Financial Crimes Insight with Watson, which is designed to help banks spot financial crimes such as money laundering. The mission of this latest incarnation of Watson, the brainchild of the company’s newly formed Watson Financial Services division, is to “[help] organizations efficiently manage financial investigation efforts through streamlined research and analysis of unstructured and structured data.”

This new suite of Watson products is aimed at helping financial institutions manage their regulatory and fiduciary obligations. It’s estimated that by 2020 the world-wide financial services industry will be faced with more 300 million pages of regulations, with the list growing by thousands of additional pages every day. That is, of course, far too much information for any team of human beings to stay on top of. But Watson, with its advanced artificial intelligence, cognitive computing and machine learning capabilities, was designed for exactly that kind of big data analytics.

The system was trained, using 60,000 US regulatory citations, by experts from Promontory Financial Group, a regulatory compliance consulting firm that IBM bought in 2016. The training also incorporates an ongoing review of transactions and cases that involve possible financial crimes. As Gene Ludwig, founder and CEO of Promontory Financial Group explains, “we’re embedding our deep regulatory experience into Watson so that a broader group of professionals can benefit from this knowledge and help their organizations operate more effectively and efficiently.”

These new Watson products are not narrowly focused just on crime, however. The broader aim is to help clients in the financial services industry address a wide range of risk assessment and regulatory compliance responsibilities. For example, in addition to the Financial Crimes Insight with Watson product, IBM is also offering Watson Regulatory Compliance, which focuses on assisting financial institutions in understanding and addressing constantly changing regulatory requirements.

Attend Watson and IBM i at the 2017 Fall Conference and Expo.

IBM Watson Taking the Fight to Cancer

CancerIBM Watson is taking the fight to cancer as more hospitals and medical research firms around the world use the resource in their ongoing war to treat the dreaded disease.

The Jeopardy champion has been consistently improving when it comes to designing treatment plans for cancer victims, Engadget reported.

New data presented to the American Society of Clinical Oncology showed suggested treatment plans from Watson were often exactly what physicians would recommend.

Recent research from India showed Watson’s suggested treatments for colon cancer matched physicians recommendations 81 percent of the time, 93 percent of the time for rectal cancer, and 96 percent of the time for lung cancer.

A study from Thailand showed comparable rates of agreements for lung, breast, colorectal and gastric cancer treatments.

Healthcare researchers are increasingly using Watson for Oncology, a cognitive computing system trained by doctors from Memorial Sloan Kettering. The system takes a patient’s medical history, extracts information from the records, and is able to design a personalized treatment plan.

Watson for Oncology just made its debut in Australia, with Queensland-based Icon Group signing up with IBM and helping oncologists across the country, the Australian Business Review reported.

Icon Group will implement an “augmented intelligence platform” to help clinicians stay on top of ever increasing amounts of cancer research.

“Traditionally they rely on a series of conferences and journals and have to soak up every bit of the new research, but Watson gives them easier access to this information,” said Cathie Reid, one of Icon’s co-founders.

The Georgia Cancer Center is also making use of IBM Watson to quickly assess genetic markers in tumors, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

With so many taking advantage of IBM Watson as a powerful resource, the system continues to prove itself as a desired ally in the fight against cancer.

IBM’s Watson Gets Busy This Tax Season

IBM’s Watson is probably best known as the computer that beat Jeopardy’s smartest contestants. Now, you can sit next to Watson and watch it work in person as it uses its awesome computing powers to help prepare your tax returns.

H&R Block has teamed up with IBM to bring Watson’s cognitive computing powers to the tax preparation field. Watson will help 70,000 tax professionals at 10,000 H&R Block offices across the country find tax breaks and increase refunds for customers.

Watson and Artificial Intelligence

Watson remembers everything. Watson uses artificial intelligence methods such as natural language processing to sort through and classify extensive amounts of information. It is able to detect even the slightest patterns in data that mere mortals might miss.

The same technology that helps doctors diagnose cancer and rare diseases was also used to digest 74,000 pages of the federal tax code, thousands of yearly tax law changes, and 60 years of tax preparation questions and answers in H&R Block’s data.

Tax professionals at H&R Block worked directly with Watson to teach it how to understand the complex world of tax preparation. In doing so, Watson proposed questions to tax pros about specific filing situations. The tax pros let Watson know when it was right and corrected it when it was wrong.

Over time, Watson honed its skills through the machine learning process. Its answers became better and more attuned to specific occupations and individual financial situations. It learned how to analyze situations that often affect tax filings, such as home purchases, the birth of a child, and marriage. And, Watson will continue to learn as it assists H&R Block’s customers in getting more money back with their tax returns.

Watson Is an Interactive Assistant

Watson isn’t replacing the human role in tax preparation. Rather, it is serving as an always-on, brilliant assistant. In a switch from ways of the past, you’ll be able to watch your taxes being prepared on a monitor in front of you as Watson works simultaneously with the tax preparer. The screen displays your tax filing information as Watson searches for credits and deductions available to you.

This may be many people’s first in-person introduction to Watson, but it will undoubtedly not be their last interaction with artificial intelligence as it continues to work its way into our everyday lives.

Watson - Block
On February 1, 2017, H&R Block CEO Bill Cobb (left) and IBM SVP David Kenny (right) announced that H&R Block’s tax professionals at approximately 10,000 branch offices across the U.S. will use a new, consumer-facing technology that incorporates IBM Watson - the largest deployment of Watson in retail locations. The new technology will help H&R Block tax professionals deliver the best outcome for each client's unique tax situation. (Photo by Guerin Blask) Source: