Cognitive computing are systems that are designed to make computer’s think and learn like human brain.Similar to an evolution of a human mind from new born to child to an adult, where new information is learned and existing information augmented, cognitive system’s learn through the vast amount of information fed to it and training on a set of information,so it can understand the context and help in making informed decisions.
For example, if you look at any learning methodology, a human mind learns and understand the context, but its equipped to answer questions in an examination/interview which it might not have seen before, but using the experiences and past learning,a informed judgement can be made. Similarly cognitive systems are modelled to learn from past set of reference data set (or learning) to help users make informed decisions. Cognitive systems can be thought of non programming systems which learns through the set of information, training, interactions and a reference data set.
From a technology perspective, at a high level, building a cognitive systems requires technologies that can understand the language, context, entities and relationship (NLP), learn through a set of supervised or unsupervised learning (Machine learning methodology), domain adoption through various techniques, technologies to help source, curate and manage content, runtimes to to build out the components together in a loosely coupled manner and wide variety of tooling’s and methodology to enable making cognitive applications.
I envision most of the cognitive capabilities offered as service over a cloud (a marketplace for cognitive and smart apps) which can be used individually or as an composite to create applications.
Stay tuned, there are lot of challenges to address in this space and ample room for innovation, it’s just getting started !!