Cognitive Computing and its applications

Hoa Nguyen (Henry)
3 min readFeb 19, 2021
Photo by Jorge Salvador on Unsplash

It could be almost outdated going back one year to talk about computer science these days. There is so much happening in those 365 days, big and small. However, I could not find a better way without going back almost a decade/decades to learn more about the concept of Cognitive Computing.

First of all, let me flashback to a news article on The New York Times interviewing the then Chief Executive and newly appointed chairwoman of I.B.M, Virginia M. Rometty in 2012. She mentioned a room-size computer that defeated its human rivals, called Watson. That champion computer was working with many health care organizations to learn medical data to diagnose cancer[1].

When I wrote a paper for an AEJMC conference in Toronto last year, I came up with the name Watson again in a project, namely Watson Natural Language Understanding which uses the natural language processing service for advanced text analytics. I tried to use their free version for analyzing the main themes of news stories about populism in India.

As early as 1959, a big corporation called Simulmatics, which had offices in New York, Washington, Cambridge, and even Saigon, followed an ambition to automate human behavior simulation[2]. The scientists at this corporation believed that their People Machine could help the human race overcome each and every disaster.

These three examples are just a shallow representation of a more significant concept: Cognitive Computing.

Photo by 4motions Werbeagentur on Unsplash

By definition, Cognitive Computing is “the use of computerized models to simulate the human thought process in complex situations where the answers may be ambiguous and uncertain.”[3] In that sense, cognitive computing systems must have five major attributes: adaptive, interactive, iterative and stateful, and contextual.

While the concept of cognitive computing is often used to describe any AI system that aims to simulate human thought, AI technologies cover a broader spectrum, from machine learning to neural networks, NLP, and even deep learning. Please note computer scientist John McCarthy coined the term artificial intelligence in 1955, and so much has been added to it since then[4].

Cognitive computing systems can examine a vast quantity of information using self-learning algorithms that include data mining, pattern recognition, and natural language processing. Its ultimate goal is to mimic the way the human brain works[5].

In Vietnam, starting in 2017, a company called Five9 Vietnam tapped into Watson APIs and IBM Bluemix to provide solutions for the banking and finance sector, healthcare, and television[6]. The company targeted social media for analytics so that it can help its business partners better understand their customers before launching personalized products. In the education and training area, NobleProg has been delivering multiple courses on AI and related topics. Among those, Cognitive Computing: An Introduction for Business Managers Training Course is an option.


[1] Claire Cain Miller. ( October 2, 2012). I.B.M Chief on Watson, Cognitive Computing and Her Tenure.

[2] Jill Lepore. (2020). If then: how the simulmatics corporation invented the future.

[3] Bridget Botelho. Cognitive Computing.

[4] Steve Lohr. (June 11, 2014). Intelligence too big for a single machine.

[5] Bernard Marr. What Everyone Should Know About Cognitive Computing.

[6] Linh San. (April 21, 2017). IBM & Five9 bring cognitive computing to Vietnam.



Hoa Nguyen (Henry)

I love to tell stories. My stories cover issues in digital economy, content creation and sometimes, data science.