Tag Archives: Cognitive Era

cognitive technology

Disruptive technology is more than just apps

Businesses frequently take a relatively simple view of digital disruption. In fact, it’s often not the applications that are disruptive, but the technologies and networks that power them. Rather than focusing on building the next killer app, in seeking disruptive technology, scientists and business leaders should work together and invest in the underlying technologies that change the fundamental science of how their industries operate.

Digital disruption often occurs behind the scenes, improving or streamlining the processes which define how well (or how badly) businesses and industries perform.

Apps act as simply one channel for people – whether consumers or employees – to access this disruptive technology. An “app-centric” view of disruption risks overlooking more effective ways to not only digitally transform industry practices, but also make these transformations accessible to those whom they benefit.

IoT’s disruptive technology impact

Take the Internet of Things, for example. The natural resources sector has already begun to adopt sensors, data analytics, and automation across all manner of operations, from drilling to transport and even maintenance of mining infrastructure. This disruptive technology has even percolated into not apps, but caps.

Mining3, an industry consortium made up of the CSIRO, several universities, and major mining firms, has developed a cap which monitors truck drivers’ brainwaves to detect fatigue before its deadly consequences set in.

More and more, disruptive technology comes from partnerships just like Mining3, forged between researchers and businesspeople who both seek to challenge what the status quo can deliver.

Researchers possess unique knowledge and critical faculties for tackling major industry or socio-economic issues; businesses can provide the resources, both technological and monetary, to make solutions viable on a large scale. When both parties’ goals align well, these partnerships can ensure digital disruption goes beyond the relatively trivial domain of the next social media app to catch the consumers’ fancy.

Play to your strengths

To be effective, these disruptive partnerships must play to both researchers’ and businesses’ strengths. Watson is IBM’s cognitive computing platform and a product of a collaboration with Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital. It can deliver surprising insights and strategic advice in almost any field – as long as it has enough data and human guidance to learn from.

When seeking to develop better treatments for cancer, doctors and research analysts, Memorial Hospital provided both: thousands of hours of training, as well as more than 12 million pages of text from more than 290 medical journals.

The more IBM Watson learns from Memorial Hospital’s expert oncologists, the more effectively Watson can help doctors spot and treat cancers, disrupting traditional methods of diagnosis and care in a way that could save countless lives. Perhaps most importantly, however, these insights and capabilities are accessible to any doctor in any licensed hospital – via a simple-to-use iPad app.

As researchers and innovators, we should focus on technologies which disrupt the fundamentals of industry and society – and an app is just the tip of the iceberg in what’s possible in this Cognitive Era.

Dr Joanna Batstone

Chief Technology Officer, IBM Australia 

Vice President and Lab Director, IBM Research

Read next: Dr Joanna Batstone pinpoints what makes emerging technology so disruptive, and explains why we need to become more ambitious in our disruptive efforts. 

Spread the word: Help Australia become digital savvy nation! Share this piece on digital disruptors using the social media buttons below.

More Thought Leaders: Click here to go back to the Thought Leadership Series homepage, or start reading the Women in STEM Thought Leadership Series here.

cognitive technology

Cognitive technology is the future, digital is simply a platform

Digital disruption is no longer confined to the online world – if indeed it ever was. We’ve already begun to see cognitive technology – technology able to perform what were traditionally human tasks – disrupt industries that we’ve previously considered as offline; from taxis to hotels and even door-to-door deliveries.

In order to innovate for tomorrow however, we need to stop thinking in terms of “online” and “offline”, because digital is simply a platform, and it’s “cognitive” that’s the future.

Living in the cognitive era

Throughout the age of digital disruption, we saw industries which have, until now, underestimated the impact that technology can have on their operations.

Now, we find ourselves in the “cognitive era” – an age in which cognitive technology can understand, reason, learn and interact with natural language, and is very quickly bridging the human and machine divide in industries which never expected to be digitally disrupted. 

We are seeing augmented intelligence transform industries which have traditionally had a relatively low demand to “go digital”; industries such as healthcare, natural resources, and even fashion.

The thought of partnering AI technology with a creative industry like fashion seemed a little bit sci fi just a few years ago, yet is now on our doorstep. 

Cognitive technology in healthcare

In healthcare, cognitive technology is already playing a key role in progressing the science of how we tackle the big health battles of today, such as cancer and chronic illness.

The number of Australians affected by cancer is expected to rise by almost 15% between now and 2020, and preventable chronic illnesses place a heavy burden on our health systems. It all comes down to early detection. Take skin cancers and melanomas for example; identifying the subtlest of changes in skin lesions as early as possible is key to a patient’s survival.

IBM Research is using image analytics and cognitive technology to help doctors identify these changes in dermatological images, and improve the rate of early detection.

The same logic applies to chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease; the earlier we can identify at-risk patients and put them into preventative care programs, the better their quality of life; and we can also start to lessen the burden on health systems.

Disruption in creative industries

Beyond health, there are other industries ripe for disruption from cognitive technology. Governments and urban planners now count Internet of Things sensors and mobile devices amongst the tools for creating friendlier, smarter and in many ways, self-managing cities.

Even artists and designers have begun to incorporate data into their creative concepts, whether analysing past fashion trends or creating pieces that respond to digital feedback in real-time.

Embracing cognitive computing

The digital age is well and truly a given for all businesses and we must embrace this new era of cognitive computing. The emerging technologies on our doorstep – from the Internet of Things to cognitive technology to quantum computing – will make data even more powerful than it already is.

This means we need to become more ambitious in our disruptive efforts: rather than seeking to simply overturn the latest applications or digital platforms, we should focus on how to apply technology which can understand, reason, learn and interact with phenomena in the physical world, and vice versa.

Dr Joanna Batstone

Chief Technology Officer, IBM Australia 

Vice President and Lab Director, IBM Research

Read next: Joanna Batstone, discusses how scientists and business leaders can work together in disruptive partnerships.

Spread the word: Help Australia become digital savvy nation! Share this piece on digital disruptors using the social media buttons below.

More Thought Leaders: Click here to go back to the Thought Leadership Series homepage, or start reading the Women in STEM Thought Leadership Series here.