Mother Earth year 2020. Status Report : Australia is on fire, Siberia is on fire, the Amazon Rainforest is being destroyed, the air we breathe is polluted, highest temperatures have been registered since records began, icebergs and glaciers melted, floods… Expending our cities is destroying the natural habitat of many species which have to set their new home closer to the areas where we live. Those animals are carrying viruses and since they live closer to us, the chances that those viruses are transmitted to us humans are raising. Then the new coronavirus pandemic. How many people will be killed? What will be the consequence on our economy, our jobs and our lives? And then… What will be next?

The world we live in has changed since the breakout of the coronavirus pandemic. An overall assessment of the related consequences showed a severe or major impact on many industries. Operating under normal conditions was no more possible, supply chains were broken, revenue loss were terrible. As a result, many people have lost their jobs, many companies have been knocked out. And this is just the beginning.

No matter where we live, no matter what we do, we are all concerned!

Touching things, being with other people, breathing the same air: these are the main risks. We are invited to wash our hands whenever we have been in contact with someone or something, wear face masks, respect physical distancing, our body temperature is checked, our cellphone location is monitored, our personal information is assessed (credit card usage, phone records, car GPS locations), we received orders to stay at home, we have travel restrictions and when we can travel we sometimes have to document our immunity or we are placed in quarantine. Sick people are tracked, then isolated, people they have been with are identified and isolated too to avoid the virus to circulate. If we do not respect those rules then we can be infected and infect other people. Confinement is the most common answer that governments found to fight against the coronavirus.

It is no more safe to gather in a single place to interact with people, there is a risk to travel, cities are going under lockdowns, businesses are closed. Most office workers will work remotely, full time. We are virtually detained at home.

As of now, who knows what will happen tomorrow? How severe will our economy and our companies be impacted? How many people will lose their jobs? What will happen to our families or to our health if the virus continues to spread? Will there be a second wave? And when? For how long? What will be the consequences? Does someone know when the current restrictions will disappear? When will we be out of this crisis? And what is next? A new pandemic? A more severe impact on the way we live due to the climate change?
It is becoming harder to feel safe. It is becoming risky to be with others. The longer we will refrain from human contact the more complicated it will be to do it again and feeling safe. This thread might last for a long, long time.

Because of this situation, no matter where you look at, there is a clear shift towards the usage of digital solutions: more shops are selling online, office workers are meeting virtually, food is ordered by using a smartphone, movies, shows and sport events are broadcasted through online media services.

Our habits have changed.

But life must go on. Organizations and people are having to adapt and be flexible to meet changing needs. We need to change the way we operate and find better ways. We must be well and reinvent. We need to build back better.

For over 10 years now, companies have invested in their digital transformation so that people are able to do most things digitally.

The consequence of operating a digital business is that you will alter the relationship with your customers. It is becoming harder to discover and understand the desires and pains of your customers? How will your organization be able to offer personalized services so that your customer feels special? Since the physical connection to them is now more than limited, it is becoming more difficult to create a bond between your customers and your brand. Offering self-services is not enough. Human interaction is key to provide personal assistance and a way must be found to restore it.

One of the issues that organizations are facing is to find a new approach to interact with their customers. Understanding people, what they need, provide them with what they want, be able to gather their sentiments and emotions, this is something complicated that only humans can provide.

Our vision is that Cognitive Computing solutions will help organizations to capture that information and is able to provide the contextual insight that is missing about their customers. It will be in favor of all the organizations to start the transition process to improve customer experience and include this innovative technology on their digital transformation agenda.

Cognitive Computing is all about making machines think.

Intelligence is a human thing and the only way for a machine to become smarter is to be able to use and process knowledge in the same way.
Providing help, assisting people, find solutions to problems requires that a given situation is understood. And this is complex since many cognitive processes and psychological functions are involved. The challenge is to put these human things inside something immaterial, inside a machine so that this machine can act like a human.

Marvin Minsky, cognitive scientist, father of AI, founder and Director of the MIT AI Lab, said “If you understand something in only one way, then you don’t really understand it at all. The secret of what anything means to us depends on how we’ve connected it to all other things we know. Well-connected representations let you turn ideas around in your mind, to envision things from many perspectives until you find one that works for you. And that’s what we mean by thinking!”.

Intelligence is a human thing. It can be defined by our ability to reason, make decisions and solve problems. These cognitive processes are linked to psychological functions such as emotions, sentiments or needs. These mental states are providing additional context related key insights which once added to other available inputs will create a conglomerate of information, providing us with a mental representation of the situation, enabling our awareness and adapting our behaviors and actions.

The intent of Cognitive Computing is to find a recipe to put these human things inside something immaterial, inside a machine so that this machine is able to act like a human. Knowing this recipe will empower us to create and explain how to create Cognitive Computing solutions to help companies during their digital transformation journey. At MacAnima, this is what we do.

As stated by Gartner and other consulting firms, a high percentage of the interactions that people have with an organization will be through “conversations” with a chatbot. What we should do is enhance these bots so that they are becoming a kind of cognitive agent, a smart virtual concierge, that is able, based on the data that is acquired and assessed, to simulate human thinking and provide a response.

Unlike other technologies, Cognitive Computing will be able to solve problems by reasoning and by making decisions rather than by strict data analysis. It will enable more precise decision-making, personalizing the relationship between organizations and their customers.

These Cognitive Computing solutions can be used to automate the customer support, assist sales or the decision-making process, assess data to get insight into the customer experience. They can also be used to recommend products, optimize pricing, detect fraud or qualify a particular demand. Using Cognitive Computing enables to parse natural language to understand the customer.

Cognitive Computing solutions could be also of great help to people looking for a job. Getting a job can be compared to problem solving. You need to find a path from your current situation to a new job. Hard and soft skills should be assessed with great care to be able to define what you are able to do and from there, find a path to alternatives jobs. Such solutions could help millions of people to find a way to get back to employment. In addition, companies recruitment strategy is shifting to virtual meetings. In such situations, an assessment of the data collected during the interview could help revealing soft skills.

Cognitive Computing will better support many jobs, will enhance them. Any industry where data is used to gain insight can benefits from this technology.

The benefits of cognitive technology cannot be overlooked. Cognitive Computing is a positive technology, it is helping people, not replacing them. It can be seen as an assistant, working in sync with people, able to understand a given context, imitating the human though process, with wisdom. It will take away « tasks » rather than « jobs » making remaining work even more human. It will bring expertise to places where no experts are available. It will highlight high risk alerts and act as experts proactively. It will help saving lives (Medical diagnostics, …) or will help people with disabilities or cognitive retardation (acting for them, provide training). Outcomes which are provided can supplement the human diagnosis and improve the quality of decision.

Cognitive Computing will make the decision-making process transparent. Ethical values are guiding the design of Cognitive Computing solutions: acting with virtue and provide something good to people and producing happiness. When making decisions, they go the Golden Mean way, are wise, use knowledge and prefer deductive reasoning, acting with equity and fairness.

All these advantages are well and truly a step beyond the conventional IT systems.
We think that the time has come to use this technology.