Education Research

What is cognitive computing?

For all the technological advancements in computing over the years, whether it be the internet, the cloud, or even artificial intelligence, it’s never quite produced anything to match the sophistication of the human brain.

Our own internal supercomputer is capable of processing data in ways that have yet to be replicated fully. We may not be able to retain vast amounts of data or perform complex calculations on demand, but we are able to reason, predict, rationalise, and make our own decisions – skills that are unique to humans. Yet that may not be true for much longer, as researchers are developing new systems that amalgamate the incredibly intricate processes of the human brain with the vast data stores of a computer.

What is cognitive computing?

This is precisely what the field of cognitive computing is trying to achieve. Computing based on cognition, or the processes of the human brain, involves creating systems that are able to self-learn, recognise patterns and objects, understand language, and ultimately operate without the input of a human.

It’s often thought of as the third age of computing, having first evolved from simple calculators in the early 1900s to the programmable machine we see mass produced today. It also forms the backbone of most of the experimental forms of computing we see making the news, whether it be , machine , , neural networksNeural Networks are simplified abstract models of the human brain. Usually they have different layers and many nodes. Each layer receives input on which it carries out simple computations, and passes on the result to the next layer, by the final layer the answer to whatever problem will be produced.  or virtual realityVirtual Reality is an array of technologies in combination with head gear that lets the user submerge himself into different worlds. The algorithms build virtual landscapes which the user can explore by moving around or turning his/her head. .

Unlike a traditional system that simply performs the tasks a human has already programmed it to do, a cognitive computer is built using machine algorithmsAn algorithm is a fixed set of instructions for a computer. It can be very simple like "as long as the incoming number is smaller than 10, print "Hello World!". It can also be very complicated such as the algorithms behind self-driving cars.. The system acquires knowledge by sifting through vast quantities of data, slowly to spot patterns and recognise inconsistencies, which it then uses to create predictions. The more data a system is exposed to, the more accurate it becomes when it encounters something new.

Most importantly, cognitive computers are able to adapt to changing requirements or information, and use context to inform . In theory, there would never be a need to interfere with a cognitive system, as it would be able to change its parameters based on the needs of the user. […]

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