The emergence of cognitive systems signals a breakthrough in the relationship between humans and technology. First of all in the way systems interact with people, showing more ‘human-like’ ways of communicating – for example in using powerful natural language processing capabilities. But also in the way systems seemingly adapt and learn ‘fuzzy’ human ways of absorbing and interpreting information, particularly when it’s very unstructured and very complex. When applied well, it eredicates the usual friction between the individual seeking insight and the technology providing it. Cognitive systems thus can augment people at the point of action in the most fluent way, without imposing an all too obvious algorithmic perspective.

Ray Kurzweil famously predicted that by 2029, computers would pass the ‘Turing Test’ – the moment at which intelligent machine behavior would be indistinguishable from that of a human. This prediction came before the arrival of the fax machine. He also predicted that by 2045, computers would be a billion times more powerful than all of the human brains on earth.

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