The Hype and Hope of Cognitive Computing

“I believe that we will...create a society where technology makes our... lives simpler, smarter and better.”

But the possibilities offered by AI are enough to make firms — or even entire nations — roll the dice. “Artificial intelligence represents a fundamental technological shift that opens up for new opportunities, increased competitiveness for Norwegian industry, and greater efficiency in the public sector,” said Alexandra Bech Gjørv, CEO of SINTEF. “SINTEF is betting heavily on AI and believe it is vital that leading expertise in this area is developed in Norway.”

“I believe that we will help create a society where technology makes our personal and professional lives simpler, smarter and better,” added Bovim.

Of course, most involved with AI would focus on its practical applications rather than its abstract possibilities. During a recent Mobile Monday at the Google Launchpad, experts in the field grounded the heady world of AI in some very practical terms. According to Ericsson’s Networked Society blog, Barak Turovsky, head of products for Google Translate and Machine Intelligence, told attendees he saw two primary uses for AI, “in cases where you have too much unstructured data and in areas where you’ve reached a plateau with current approaches and need a jump (such as translation).” AI, in his current view, is more of an “assistive” technology, with current neural networks lacking the power to make primary decisions. He used an example of a radiologist who could identify cancer activity 95 percent of the time. “AI can, say, ‘Look at these two or three exceptions. Take a closer look,’” he said.

Not everyone is so rosy about the growing power of AI. According to the 2017 Big Data Executive survey from New Vantage Partners [PDF], 46.6 percent of senior executives fear that their companies are at significant risk of being disrupted or displaced by AI technology in the years to come. But these respondents are concerned about the success of AI that works too well, not doubtful that AI will fail to deliver on its significant promises.

So there is no doubting the potential for AI to be a powerful, disruptive force in the years ahead. It is still early in its hype cycle, per Gartner — a few years out from widespread and concrete growth. Machine learning is at the “peak of inflated expectation,” but  two to five years from widespread adoption. Cognitive computing (new to the Gartner hype cycle) is closer to a decade away from widespread adoption, and true artificial intelligence is even farther out.

And it’s that middle technology — cognitive computing— that has raised some eyebrows lately.

Born and nurtured by IBM, the technology has moved out of the strict jurisdiction of Big Blue and has become discussed in many corners of the tech space.


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