This week at World of Watson IBM is giving the world a sneak peek into the future of cognitive computing. It’s made me think about how artificial intelligence can transform our world – and how it’s already doing so. Far from the hostile AI of movies like Terminator and The Matrix, Watson illustrates how computer cognition will be play an important and positive role in just about every aspect of our lives. Here are just a few of the ways that cognitive computing will reshape everything from business to day-to-day living:
- Banking: Today, computers can spot bank fraud by relying on triggers like sudden extravagant purchases, transactions over a certain dollar amount, or buying in unusual locations. Cognitive computing is allowing bank and credit card security teams to uncover bad transactions using predictive analytics and lateral thinking, such as by noticing a pattern of purchases just below the fraud trigger amount, or not in keeping with a customer’s spending habits.
- Healthcare: The healthcare industry is famous for its many paper forms and bureaucratic red tape, which makes coordinating complex care time consuming and expensive – even at top hospitals. A learning computer can sift through all the available forms to suggest the best course of treatment (and payment) without forcing patients and hospital staff to pore through reams of documents. And that’s not even touching on how Watson can help map the human genome and facilitate the development of life-saving advances.
- Manufacturing: People already associate manufacturing with computers, robotics, and automation. Now imagine if a cognitive computer ran a factory, and was able to adjust to changing conditions on the fly. Fusing real-time sensors and analytics, a system like Watson could swiftly optimize efficiency and enhance quality of a manufacturer’s mechanical and human workforce. And this isn’t the distant future: it’s already happening at factories that are building everything from cars to semiconductors.
- Internet of Things: Watson is already at the forefront of the Internet of Things, the interconnectivity of household and everyday appliances, to give people the digitally enhanced life you’ve seen in science fiction movies. Cognitive computing means that not only is your coffee maker happily percolating when you wake up, it knows based on your last late-night social media post and sleep habits what time you’re likely to wake up.
Cognitive computing was just a pipe dream even a decade ago, but the future is in many ways already here. And this is just the beginning.