Even the changes are changing: A new age of cognitive computing


Watson, the computer that achieved prominence in 2011 by defeating the all time best players of the American TV quiz show, Jeopardy!, was a herald of a new age.  Suddenly it was possible for machines to understand us, in our own language.  In the six years since, new AI and cognitive capabilities for machines are being announced at a dizzying pace, yet in the 60 years before Watson, AI moved comparably slowly.  There are a few simple factors that have helped move us into the cognitive computing age, such as availability of data and the power of computation, but there is a deeper reason.  Artificial intelligence itself has had to change, from a view of machines as perfect rational thinkers, to an understanding that cognition is intimately tied to perception, which is imperfect, and that therefore knowledge and reasoning is inherently subjective and ambiguous. Once we accept this, we can continue changing.