Cognitive computing and interconnectedness

Cognitive computing is the latest major technological innovation, as computers become capable of thinking like people. A survey by Swiss Re and IBM® offered some interesting insights into how the corporate sector views the effect of cognitive computing on digital interconnectedness risks.

Just under half of the survey respondents thought cognitive computing will be used across all industries by 2025. There is a certain amount of apprehension about this development, as 68% of insurers and 64% of companies think digital interconnectedness risks will rise as a result. So it isn't surprising that 83% and 85% of companies and insurers respectively support ultimate responsibility staying in human hands.

This suggests artificial intelligence may need to be monitored carefully in future. It also conflicts with the survey's findings on how autonomous systems will influence interconnectedness risks. A clear majority of both companies and insurers said increased use of autonomous systems (i.e. less human involvement) would reduce the risk element.

Maybe there are some negative preconceptions about artificial intelligence. Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and Bill Gates have all referred to the destructive, even apocalyptic, power of computers and robots thinking for themselves. However, cognitive computing can also be applied in more positive ways.

Researchers believe, for example, that cognitive technology could be used to analyse huge volumes of data to find irregularities, which could signal a cyber-attack. It could also be invaluable in the real-time application of risk pricing and measurement models.

The big game-changer in the cognitive arena will be the development of quantum computing, which is still in its infancy. In the future, it will greatly enhance the sophistication of IT security (and cyber-attacks). Quantum computing is thus bound to eventually advance the role of cognitive technology significantly.  

However, until that happens the lesson of the Swiss Re/IBM® survey seems to be that industry will apply cognitive computing, but only to the extent that it helps people to make better-informed decisions.

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