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A Look at Cognitive Computing

While an exact definition of cognitive computing has yet to be established, most experts can agree that it is a concept that encompasses machine-based learning, language processing, narrative generation and artificial intelligence into one highly complex system. The most well-known example of modern cognitive computing is IBM's Watson supercomputer, which has been featured on the game show Jeopardy.

Native Features of Cognitive Computing

Despite the mystification surrounding cognitive computing, some of the most common features of these systems include real-time adaption to new information or goals, advanced interactivity with humans as well as other devices and machines, contextual translation as well as the ability to understand context and the capacity for problem-solving.

While Watson's appearance on Jeopardy is certainly the most notable, the supercomputer has utilized in a number of other applications. In fact, Watson is currently used to power various speech recognition, sentiment analysis and facial detection apps. It also serves as the backbone for CogX, an open source cognitive computing framework created by HP.

Support From Academia

IBM has even joined forces with MIT's Department of Brain & Cognitive Sciences in order to further explore connections between humans and computers while refining cognitive computing as a whole. The new initiative, which began in September 2016, involves a number of researchers, graduate students and staff members from MIT as well as various engineers and scientists with Microsoft.

Guru Banavar, vice president and chief scientist of Cognitive Computing with IBM Research, spoke about the new partnership in a recent interview by saying: "In a world where humans and machines are working together in increasingly collaborative relationships, breakthroughs in the field of machine vision will potentially help us live healthier more productive lives. By bringing together brain researchers and computer scientists to solve this complex technical challenge, we will advance the state-of-the-art in AI with our collaborators at MIT."

Formally known as the IBM-MIT Laboratory for Brain-inspired Multimedia Machine Comprehension, or BM3C for short, the program is led by James diCarlo: MIT's head of the Department of Brain & Cognitive Sciences. There has been no end date announced to the partnership, suggesting this will be an ongoing initiative for years to come.

"Our brain and cognitive scientists are excited to team up with cognitive computing scientists and engineers from IBM to achieve next-generation cognitive computing advances as exposed by next-generation models of the mind," said DiCarlo. "We believe that our fields are poised to make key advances in the very challenging domain of unassisted real-world audio-visual understanding and we are looking forward to this new collaboration."

About IBM Research

While their latest partnership is certainly a monumental endeavor, this isn't the first time that IBM Research has worked with academia. In fact, they're currently maintaining partnerships with more than 250 universities in the various areas of cognitive computing. Moreover, they currently maintain a team of more than 3,000 professionals in a total of 13 different facilities on six different continents. To find out further information about IBM's recent collaboration with MIT, or any of their other projects, please visit


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