Sep 042017

CogTechIn part one I examined the connection of KM and AI and how this connection has lead the way for cognitive computing; while in part two I examined those industries that will or are soon to be disrupted by Cognitive Computing; and in this post I will examine those technologies that will lead in the disruption brought to many industries by the way of cognitive computing.

Cognitive computing is the simulation of human thought processes in a computerized model. Cognitive computing involves self-learning systems (Artificial Neural Network machine learning algorithms) that use data mining, pattern recognition and natural language processing to imitate how humans think. The goal of cognitive computing systems is to accelerate our ability to create, learn, make decisions and think.

According to Forbes, “cognitive computing comes from a mashup of cognitive science and computer science.” However, to understand the various aspects of this mashup we must peel back the various components of cognitive computing. These components are centered within AI and KM. The components of cognitive computing enable these applications to be trained in order to recognize images and understand speech, to recognize patterns, and acquire knowledge and learn from it as it evolves producing more accurate results over time.

Cognitive Technologies

Cognitive technologies have been evolving since I started developing AI applications (Expert Systems and Artificial Neural Networks) in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Cognitive technologies are now a prominent part of the products being developed within the field of artificial intelligence.

Cognitive computing is not a single technology: It makes use of multiple technologies and algorithms that allow it to infer, predict, understand and make sense of information. These technologies include Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning algorithms that help train the system to recognize images and understand speech, to recognize patterns, and through repetition and training, produce ever more accurate results over time. Through Natural Language Processing systems based on semantic technology, cognitive systems can understand meaning and context in a language, allowing deeper, more intuitive level of discovery and even interaction with information.

The major list of cognitive technologies solutions include:

Expert Systems, Neural Networks, Robotics, Virtual Reality, Big Data Analytics, Deep Learning, Machine Learning Algorithms, Natural Language Processing, and Data Mining

Various cognitive technologies or applications are being developed by many organizations (large, small, including many startups). When it comes to cognitive technologies, IBM Watson has become the most recognized. IBM Watson includes a myriad of components that comprise the Watson eco system of products.

Companies Delivering Cognitive Solutions

Here are a few companies delivering cognitive solutions that take advantage of the cognitive technologies mentioned above as well as the industry they focus on.

Industry: Healthcare

Welltok: Welltok offers a cognitive powered tool called CaféWell Concierge that can process vast volumes of data instantly to answer individuals’ questions and make intelligent, personalized recommendations. Welltok offers CaféWell Concierge to health insurers, providers, and similar organizations as a way to help their subscribers and patients improve their overall health.

Industry: Finance

Vantage Software : provides reporting and analytics capabilities to private equity firms and small hedge funds. The company’s latest product, Coalesce, is powered by IBM Watson’s cognitive computing technology. This is an example of a company developing a software platform and using IBM Watson’s API’s to provide cognitive capabilities. This product addresses the need to absorb and understand huge volumes of information and use that information to make split-second, reliable decisions about where and when to invest client funds in a highly volatile market.

Industry: Legal

One of the major impediments to quality, affordable legal representation is the high cost of legal research. The body of law is a growing mountain of complex data, and requires increasingly more hours and manpower to parse. Lawyers are constantly analyzing data to find answers that will benefit their clients. For law firms to stay competitive they must find ways to cut cost and streamlining legal research is one way to do just that.

ROSS Intelligence: software is built on the Watson cognitive computing platform, ROSS has developed a legal research tool that will enable law firms to slash the time spent on research, while improving results.

AI & Blockchain

Detailing AI, KM and Cognitive computing would not be complete without adding blockchain to the technologies that will disrupt several industries. Functionally, a blockchain can serve as “an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way. The ledger itself can also be programmed to trigger transactions automatically. AI & Blockchain come together when analyzing digital rights. For example, AI will learn the rules by identifying actors who break copyright law. The use of AI applications will be extended by incorporating blockchain technology. When blockchains scale to encompass big-data, AI will provide the query and analysis engine to extract insights from the blockchain of data.

Cognitive technology solutions can be found in a number of applications across many industries. These industries include but are not limited to legal, customer service, oil & gas, healthcare, financial and automotive just to name a few. Cognitive technologies have the potential to disrupt Every industry and Every discipline — Stay Tuned!!


Jun 282017

RobotThis is the second of a three (3) part post on the connection between Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Knowledge Management (KM). In this post I examine those industries that will or are soon to be disrupted by AI and KM, specifically in the form of Cognitive Computing. Before we look ahead, let’s take a look back. During the time I first became involved in AI (late 80’s), it’s hype and promise at that time became too much to live up to (a typical phenomenon in software see Hype Cycle) and its promise faded into the background. Fast forward to 2010 and AI is beginning to become the “next big thing”. AI had already made its presence felt in the automobile industry (robotics), as well as with decision making systems in medicine, logistics, and manufacturing (expert systems and neural networks). Now AI in the form of Cognitive Computing is making its mark on several industries. In a recent CB Insights Newsletter, it was stated that the US Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that 10.5 million jobs are at risk of automation. Due to the rapid adoption and application of better hardware processing capabilities which facilitate artificial intelligence algorithms use on big data this is leading the change in blue and white collar jobs.

At a recent Harvard University commencement address , Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg stated “Our generation will have to deal with tens of millions of jobs replaced by automation like self-driving cars and trucks,”. Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft and Chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in a recent MarketWatch story had this to say “In that movie, old Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) was given this very famous piece of advice: “I just want to say one word to you. Just one word …Plastics,” And today? That word would likely be “robots“, and “artificial intelligence” would have a huge impact”.

Although there are many industries where Cognitive Computing will disrupt the way business is conducted including the economics around job loss and future job creation, I have chosen to look at three (3) industries; Legal Services, Automotive Industry, and Healthcare.

Legal Services

LegalKnowledge Management (KM) is becoming more prevalent within law firms as well as legal departments as the practice of KM has become more mature. AI technologies are also making its way into the practice of law. Ability to reuse internally developed knowledge assets such as precedents, letters, research findings, and case history information is vital to a law firm’s success. Paralegals currently play a critical role in assisting attorneys with discovery. With the use of AI systems attorneys will be able to “mine” more accurately and efficiently the large volumes of documents (i.e., precedents, research findings, and case history information) located in various repositories to aid in decision making and successful client outcomes. This ability will limit the use of paralegals and attorneys currently needed to perform these tasks.

Cognitive computing, will enable computers to learn how to complete tasks traditionally done by humans. The focus of cognitive computing is to look for patterns in data, carrying out tests to evaluate the data and finding results. This will provide lawyers with similar capabilities as it provides doctors; an in-depth look into the data that will provide insights that cannot be provided otherwise. According to a 2015 Altman Weil Law Firms in Transition survey  35% of law firm leaders indicate cognitive computing will replace 1st year associates in the next ten (10) years. While 20% of law firm leaders indicate cognitive computing will replace 2nd and 3rd year attorneys as well. In addition, 50% of law firm leaders indicate cognitive computing will replace paralegals altogether. Cognitive computing capability to mine big data is the essential reason lower level research jobs will be replaced by computers. This situation is not just limited to the legal profession.

Automotive Industry

Autonomous VehicleAutonomous Vehicles and Vehicle Insurance

Autonomous vehicles, also known as a driverless car, robot car (here we go with robots again!), and self-driving car can guide themselves without human intervention. This kind of vehicle is paving the way for future cognitive systems where computers take over the art of driving. Autonomous Vehicles are positioned to disrupt the insurance industry. Let’s take a look at what coverages are a part of the typical vehicle insurance policy.

Vehicle insurance typically addresses six (6) coverages. These coverages include (1) Bodily Injury Liability, which typically applies to injuries that you, the designated driver or policyholder, cause to someone else; (2) Medical Payments or Personal Injury Protection (PIP), which covers the treatment of injuries to the driver and passengers of the policyholder’s vehicle; (3) Property Damage Liability, which covers damage you (or someone driving the car with your permission) may cause to someone else’s property; (4) Collision, which covers damage to your car resulting from a collision with another car, object or and even potholes; (5) Comprehensive, which covers you for loss due to theft or damage caused by something other than a collision with another car or object, such as fire, falling objects, etc.; (6) Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage, which reimburses you, a member of your family, or a designated driver if one of you is hit by an uninsured or hit-and-run driver. The way these coverage’s are applied (or not) to a vehicle policy will be disrupted by the use of autonomous vehicles.

According to an 2016 Forbes article by Jeff McMahon  about 90 percent of car accidents are caused by human error. However, it is estimated that autonomous vehicles will significantly reduce the number of accidents. This will significantly disrupt the insurance revenue model, effecting all six (6) types of coverage identified above. When the risk of accidents drops, the demand for insurance will potentially drop as well (this will not happen unless the states no longer require insurance that covers accidents). So, there will be no doubt that auto insurance companies will the type of coverage and the language effecting the policies.

Some Unintended? Side Effects

The autonomous vehicle with its multiple sensors have the potential to eliminate accidents due to distractions and drunk driving. This will disrupt the vehicle repair industry by largely eliminating crashes so collision repair shops will lose a huge portion of their business. Indirectly, the decreased demand for new auto parts will hurt vehicle part manufacturers. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2010 approximately 24 million vehicles were damaged in accidents, which had an economic cost of $76 billion in property damages. The loss of this revenue will put a strain on these manufacturers.


CogMedThe healthcare delivery process presents a consistent flow of data, information and knowledge for the delivery of healthcare. These areas include Patient Intake, Data Collection, Decision Support, Diagnosis and Treatment, and Patient Closeout. The areas of the healthcare delivery process that will be disrupted by cognitive computing include Patient Intake, Data Collection and Diagnosis and Treatment.

Patient Intake and Data Collection: The patient intake process is the first opportunity to capture knowledge about the patient and his/her condition at the time of arrival at the healthcare facility. Cognitive computing executed through natural language processing (NLP) tools will capture medical insurance information, method of payment, medical history and current vital condition. All of this data is transitioned to the facilities database. This presents an opportunity for the data, information and knowledge about the patient to be automatically shared. NLP tools will limited or eliminate the need for a receptionist/admin to initially capture patient information.

Diagnosis and Treatment: Making a diagnosis is a very complex process, which includes cognitive tasks that involves both logical reasoning and pattern recognition. The development of Artificial Neural Networks that incorporates deep-learning capabilities are being developed to mine health related big data repositories. This innovation is providing clinicians and researchers with effective tools for improving and personalizing patient treatment options. It has been established that big-data analysis could help to identify which patients are most likely to respond to specific therapeutic approaches versus others. Analysis of such data may also improve drug development by allowing researchers to better target novel treatments to patient populations.

The clinical trials that pharmaceutical companies rely on for FDA approval and drug labeling capture too little of the information patients and physicians need. The trials only enroll a small percentage patients and can take years and tens of millions of dollars to finish. Many trials never enroll enough patients to get off the ground. Using cognitive computing will assist physicians to understand which patients are most likely to respond with standard approaches, and which need more aggressive treatment and monitoring. Enabling cognitive computing to harness the genetic and clinical data routinely generated by hospitals and physicians would also accelerate drug development, by rapidly matching targeted treatments sitting in companies’ research pipelines with the patients who are most likely to respond. In addition, the sheer number of clinical research and medical trials being published on an ongoing basis makes it difficult to analyze the resulting big data without the use of cognitive computing tools (for more information see Forbes article: IBM and Microsoft are Disrupting The Healthcare Industry with Cognitive Computing).

Where do we go from here!

AI, KM and Cognitive Computing will continue to evolve and more areas of disruption will be coming. So, the question is… how can we address the loss of jobs; how can we prepare for the new jobs; and how must business and government evolve to meet the challenges that cognitive computing present? It is clear that we must retrain/retool the current workforce and at the same time infuse our vocational schools, trade schools, colleges and universities with the right tools and experienced instructors/professors to teach the concepts and applications of AI, KM and Cognitive Computing. Businesses must continue to innovate. Innovating in the same old way will cause a business to become extinct. However, I’m talking about innovating by bringing a diversification of thought and experiences, including cultural into the innovation community. Creating your innovation intersection (for more on finding your innovation intersection – read The Medici Effect by Frans Johansson). Only by innovating differently will your business not only survive but thrive in this new world where interacting with computers (yes robots too!) will be an everyday occurrence in life!

May 312017

AI and KMThis is the first of a three (3) part post on the connection between Artificial Intelligence and Knowledge Management.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become the latest “buzzword” in the industry today. However, AI has been around for decades. The intent of AI is to enable computers to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, as such AI will evolve to take many jobs once performed by humans. I studied and developed applications in AI from the mid to late 1980’s through the early 2000’s. AI in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s evolved into a multidisciplinary science which included expert systems, neural networks, robotics, Natural Language Processing (NPL), Speech Recognition and Virtual Reality.

Knowledge Management (KM) is also a multidisciplinary field. KM encompasses psychology, epistemology, and cognitive science. The goals of KM are to enable people and organizations to collaborate, share, create, use and reuse knowledge. Understanding this KM is leveraged to improve performance, increase innovation and expand what we know both from an individual and organizational perspective.

KM and AI at its core is about knowledge. AI provides the mechanisms to enable machines to learn. AI allows machines to acquire, process and use knowledge to perform tasks and to unlock knowledge that can be delivered to humans to improve the decision-making process. I believe that AI and KM are two sides of the same coin. KM allows an understanding of knowledge to occur, while AI provides the capabilities to expand, use, and create knowledge in ways we have not yet imagined.

The connection of KM and AI has lead the way for cognitive computing. Cognitive computing uses computerized models to simulate human thought processes. Cognitive computing involves self/deep learning artificial neural network software that use text/data mining, pattern recognition and natural language processing to mimic the way the human brain works. Cognitive computing is leading the way for future applications involving AI and KM.

In recent years, the ability to mine larger amounts of data, information and knowledge to gain competitive advantage and the importance of data and text analytics to this effort is gaining momentum. As the proliferation of structured and unstructured data continues to grow we will continue to have a need to uncover the knowledge contained within these big data resources. Cognitive computing will be key in extracting knowledge from big data. Strategy, process centric approaches and interorganizational aspects of decision support to research on new technology and academic endeavors in this space will continue to provide insights on how we process big data to enhance decision making.

Cognitive computing is the next evolution of the connection between AI and KM. In future post, I will examine and discuss the industries where cognitive computing is being a disruptive force. This disruption will lead to dramatic changes on how people will work in these industries.

Mar 312017

CognitiveThere are approximately 22,000 new cases of lung cancer each year with an overall 5-year survival rate of only ~18 percent (American Cancer Society). The economic burden of lung cancer just based on per patient cost is estimated $46,000/patient (lung cancer journal). Treatment efforts using drugs and chemotherapy are effective for some, however more effective treatment has been hampered by the inability of clinicians to better target treatments to patients. It has been determined that Big Data holds the key for providing clinicians with the ability to develop more effective patient centered cancer treatments.

Analysis of Big Data may also improve drug development by allowing researchers to better target novel treatments to patient populations. Providing the ability for clinicians to harness Big Data repositories to develop better targeted lung cancer treatments and to enhance the decision-making process to improve patient care can only be accomplished through the use of cognitive computing. However, having a source or sources of data available to “mine” for answers to improve lung cancer treatments is a challenge!

There is also a lack of available applications that can take advantage of Big Data repositories to recognize patterns of knowledge and extract that knowledge in any meaningful way. The extraction of knowledge must be presented in a way that researchers can use to improve patient centric diagnosis and the development of patient centric treatments. Having the ability to use cognitive computing and KM methods to uncover knowledge from large cancer repositories will provide researchers in hospitals, universities, and pharmaceutical companies with the ability to use Big Data to identify anomalies, discover new treatment combinations and enhance diagnostic decision making.

Content Curation

An important aspect to cognitive computing and Big Data is the ability to perform a measure of content curation. The lung cancer Big Data environment that will be analyzed should include both structured and unstructured data (unstructured being documents, spreadsheets, images, video, etc.). In order to ingest the data from the Big Data resource the data will need to be prepared. This data preparation includes applying Information Architecture (IA) to the unstructured data within the repository. Understanding the organization and classification schemes relating to the data both structured and unstructured is essential to unifying the data into one consistent ontology.

Are We Up for the Challenge!

Even if a Big Data source was available and content curation was successful, the vast amounts of patient data is governed by HIPAA laws which makes it difficult for researchers to gain access to clinical and genomic data shared across multiple institutions or firms including research institutions and hospitals. According to Dr. Tom Coburn in his January 14th article in the Wall Street Journal ‘A Cancer ‘Moonshot’ Needs Big Data; gaining access to a big data repository all inclusive of patient specific data is essential to offering patient centered cancer treatments. Besides the technology challenges, there are data and regulation challenges. I’m sure that many of these challenges are being addressed. Thus, far there have been no solutions. Are we up for the challenge? Big Data analysis could help tell us which cancer patients are most likely to be cured with standard approaches, and which need more aggressive treatment and monitoring. It is time we solve these challenges to make a moonshot a certain reality!