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Think different: Cognitive computing systems will bring data-led change- Valutrics

Humans, machines: Lots in common

“That’s how we all work,” Hurwitz said. For example, when people start a new job, they go in with certain assumptions. “Your boss tells you, ‘This is the way we do our jobs,’ and you follow that way. But as you learn more, as you talk to more customers, as you gather more data, you change, your level of sophistication changes, what you understand changes.”

And that’s what cognitive computing systems do, Hurwitz said. They learn from facts, even as they morph, and can build programs by “letting the data lead.” That sets aside biases and assumptions that could be built into business applications for a range of industries — especially ones that deal in mammoth amounts of data, such as healthcare and manufacturing — and lead decision makers to the wrong conclusions.

Hurwitz illustrated how this could happen with the example of another area that cognitive computing systems will likely have a big effect on: cities, which entail everything from transportation to policing to environmental planning. Imagine, she said, writing business logic for urban transportation 150 years ago.

“We would build logic around how horses operate in a city, because that would be our reality and how we look at the world,” she said. “Clearly, if we tried to apply those same rules today, it would be silly.”

Consultant Judith Hurwitz discusses how cognitive computing systems will be available in the future in the second part of this two-part report.