Cognitive computing: More than just a buzzword?
06 Feb 2017



In this article we explain what cognitive computing is and how it can be used...


​​​​​​Credit: iStock


​What is cognitive computing?

Cognitive computing is the term we’re currently using to describe initiatives and technologies, such as IBM Watson, that are enabling machines to learn and evolve through experience, reason with purpose, and interact with humans in a more natural way.

Cognitive systems can be trained in specific domains of expertise in the same way the human brain learns. Once trained, a cognitive system opens up a world of exciting new possibilities for industry and academic research alike, and can also be integrated with data analytics capabilities. Instead of just seeing patterns and trends, cognitive technology allows computers to perform deeper reasoning about the data. This means that businesses and researchers alike can make faster, more intelligent decisions with greater confidence and understanding.

More than just a buzzword?

With the arrival of new technologies, there is often a certain degree of buzzword bingo and hype to navigate – and we know this better than most! It is no surprise, then, that the furore surrounding cognitive computing can be hard to decipher at times.

That’s why we’ve created this short animation to illustrate the potential of cognitive computing and how we’re looking to apply it to real world problems. We hope it helps to demystify the applications of cognitive computing in an accessible way. Please feel free to share it with anyone else looking to get to grips with what cognitive has to offer! 


How can it be used?

Cognitive computing can be applied to a vast number of industry and research problems, but typically the domains cognitive computing is best suited to are those involving complex problems, with decision-making based on several competing solutions. Reasoning in such domains would usually be probabilistic, and may involve assigning levels of confidence to each solution. There will also be the possibility of developing solutions through improving the underlying data collection (particularly in quality, rather than quantity only). Medical diagnoses are an example of this, being typically probabilistic, with further tests ordered as required in specific cases.

One way that cognitive computing will soon make a difference is through our collaboration with Alder Hey Children’s Hospital to create a cognitive hospital which improves the patient experience. Read the Hartree Insights article below for more info.

If we’ve whet your appetite and you want to know more about applying cognitive computing to your industry or research challenges, please contact us or take a look at our cognitive computing page​.