Cognitive Computing & Artificial Intelligence: Why Do We Care?

Recently I was invited to a campus to speak on a topic I had covered at a conference and the dean invited me to his campus to expand on the presentation, “Cognitive computing and Why We Care”.  A topic that gained an audience of the chancellor, provost, CS students and non-CS students interested in the discussion.  The next week I was on a campus visit with my daughter and one of the student ambassadors was a double major in computer science and biology.  We talked about cyber security and cognitive computing and biology and her multiple job offers.   With another group, during a discussion while bowling, we talked about artificial intelligence and where it is leading in the future.

This is a topic not only impacting most industries but impacting most of us personally.  From learning new skills to using travel tools, to robotics medical procedures, to automotive functions up to and including autonomous vehicles this is a topic in which we all want to know more.   From the new Cognitive Computing/Artificial Intelligence Career Path to the TED Talk with Grady Booch to the Artificial Intelligence Now book this are all new resources from the last month the merit this being the topic for today’s update.  With so much to cover, let’s begin…


IBM Skills Academy New Artificial Intelligence Career Path

The newest IBM Skills Academy Career Path is for Artificial Intelligence.  Below is snapshot of the program and reach out to me for the complete abstract if your school is interested in this career path:

AI SA pic


Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Computing With IBM Research

The future of Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Computing is here.  Today we have a system making recommendations not previously considered–consider Chef Watson. It this is much more than one system today.  Today we have the car notifying the manufacturer if there is a defect needing service. But in the future the car can also notify Starbucks I have been driving for 4 hours and based on my target designation requiring 3 more hours of driving Starbucks can send me a voice message that in 5 miles I have an easy exit to Starbucks where based traffic, location and other factors I can pick up the drink and be back on the road in 4 minutes and they can automatically use my Bank card or gift card on file for payment–and all that is needed is my voice response of “Yes”  After Thanksgiving travels, we can all probably relate to that one.

Below are examples of projects with one showing the power of leveraging AI for mental health.  “At IBM, scientists are using transcripts and audio inputs from psychiatric interviews, coupled with machine learning techniques, to find patterns in speech to help clinicians accurately predict and monitor psychosis, schizophrenia, mania and depression. Today, it only takes about 300 words to help clinicians predict the probability of psychosis in a user.” With additional future applications easily seen for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases.  Explore projects

Depression pic


MIT and AI Watson Lab

The announcement of IBM working with MIT over the next 10 years is one example of IBM’s engagement with academia on industry and academic collaboration.  Two of the programs in this update demonstrate how for years how valuable this linkage is for all.   The IBM Academic Initiative provides free resources to all faculty and students at accredited institutions around the globe and the new IBM Skills Academy continues to add whole new career paths to assist institutions in bringing new technology topics into the classroom with faculty training in hands on face to face experience in the cloud with badge credentials with industry resources included the latest announcement of the new  IBM Skills Academy Career Path:  Artificial Intelligence.



IBM Academic Initiative Watson Educator Guide

In the discussion about industry and academic collaboration every accredited school has the ability today to use the IBM resources including the Watson technology’s in the classroom for free. The IBM Academic Initiative Watson Educator Guide provides resources including learning about Watson, lab and exercises and the application program interfaces (API’s) for faculty and student to work with those and other resources in this growing area as highlighted in the above project.

The material in this guide is primarily for faculty teaching courses related to Software Engineering with an emphasize on artificial intelligence. This guide provides an introduction to Watson services on IBM Cloud and shares corresponding labs that you can use in your classroom with your students.  Read this guide to learn more and find introductory videos, tutorials, corresponding labs and exercises you can use in your classroom.

This educator guide helps you to:

  • Understand the importance of developing skills around the IBM Watson services.
  • Obtain a basic understanding of IBM’s Watson services on IBM Cloud.
  • Find classroom assets, labs, training, workshops and other resources (including cloud platform access) to use in your classroom. Please note all these resources are free.

This guide will prepare your students to build cognitive systems that augment human intelligence. This guide also contains assets you can use in your classroom to build cognitive systems that comprise understanding vision and understanding language.


IBM Institute for Business Value Studies:  Chatbots Worth Talking to

As we talk about AI solving real problems, this study drives the discussion on how to use Chatbots the right way.   During this fall time-frame most citizens in the US have a window we have to make decisions about healthcare coverage for the next year.  Perfect timing to discuss how Chatbots can be used in HR functions to address the volume of questions that occur during this condensed timeframe.   If a Chatbot can summarize areas important in healthcare coverage and the chatbot can make recommendations based on an overall approach to heath, exercise and eating habits and the gain the necessary knowledge to lead to the best choice that meets an immediate need.

But what if it could also make recommendations and adjustments while taking into consideration the new laws and changes impacting my costs and options that would be a great use of technology to address the large volumes of data in disparate areas while confirming with the insurance company the best plan for that individual/family and showing a proposed calendar for flu shots, sport physicals, blood work and annual checkups…sign us up!   A Chatbot for HR functions is a good area since it requires trust, reliability and consistency for users to return and use the service.   But think beyond today to the future of what really would make the Chatbot our newest best friend who knows us better then we know ourselves.



Artificial Intelligence Now:  Current Perspectives from O’Reilly Media

This book is a 2-3 hour artificial intelligence quick read along with the Grady Booch video below makes the topic one that we can all use as an update as we move to the next level of understanding AI.   For AI to work the book and the below diagraph from the book show four key areas are needed:   massive datasets, significant computing power (now inexpensive in the cloud), algorithms and talented/skilled people.

The focus on talent is shows why the linkage between industry and education continues to be a critical topic discussed at all levels.  “The talent to build the most advanced systems is much harder to come by, however. There is a genuine shortage of individuals who are able to work fluently with the most effective methods, and even fewer who can advance the state of the art.”

Excerpt from above book URL



IBM Global University Programs Cognitive Resources

On the IBM Global University Programs Page there is a section specifically for highlighting Watson/Cognitive Computing.   This will help universities, community colleges, advanced high schools and others who want to bring this topic into the classroom along with new resources from IBM as they become available.   The cases and examples make this a page to share broadly for what is there today and what will be added in the future.  The reason we care about technology that it is tackling some of our most feared problems:   Mental Illnesses, Cancer, Clean Water, Food Distribution and more



Don’t Fear Super Intelligence Grady Booch TED Talk

This video is a good way to bring all students and faculty into the discussion of why they care about AI.  Most of us have seen movies showing AI technology as an unknown or advanced technology to be feared.  Grady’s TEDTalk make it real on the level of showing us how we control what happens next.  The discussion being held by governments and industry leaders shows how we have to make the deliberate decision on how the technology will be used.   It’s a humorous and educational discussion on a much debated topic.   Grady asks and answers the questions on everyone’s mind and does it in 10 minutes.



With so much happening in technology, selecting one topic is always the hardest task of continuing our monthly discussion in follow-up to our 1:1’s, discussions at conferences, live walkthru’s of resources, workshops and for our blog exchanges.   Welcome to the community of technology futurists with an unlimited vision for what the future holds and who have a plan for making it better.

Not only is the glass mostly full — with vast resources at our fingertips, we are sure with collaboration and the resources discussed above and more, our mission is not to just save the world but make it a world where have eliminated physical and mental illness, eliminated hunger and ensured everyone has clean water.  Now that we have our action list let’s use the above resources demonstrating skills is not the problem but talent/skills are absolutely the answer and yes…we got this!




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