The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

What should be the goal of cognitive computing?

automated decisions.pngSome organizations think that cognitive computing is about getting better answers more quickly, typically using English to form the questions. There is no doubt that there is tremendous appeal to getting the answer to question in natural language, but is that really enough. In a world of data abundance, it can be difficult to know the right question to ask.


Unfortunately, many times it is the questions we never knew to ask, that turn into potential big gains or losses. One of my co-workers from HP labs mentioned that:

“It is interesting to note that change detection is a core competency (and survival property) of the visual cortex; it responds quickly because it constantly compares visual input with memories of what the world should look like. Thus, as we build next-generation systems based on large amounts of rapidly changing data, you want the data to self-organize, recognize similarities, detect changes, and help you assess anomalies so that these may be investigated.”


In addition to systems, we need services that enable the decision maker (human or machine) to react, respond and investigate based on the context of the information available, so that the entire ecosystem learns and adapts. It could be that having the future approach focus on better questions than better answers and how to display those questions and their answers more effectively should be the goal.


When I talk to leaders about where the future of services is headed, this is where my thoughts tend to go and it is going to take different techniques than organizations have deployed today.

What about 'the machine'?

0610_hp_05_630.jpgI came across this Businessweek article: HP May Have Invented a New Kind of Computer – the Machine. This is all too early to be covered by an event like HP Discover, but still very thought provoking. In fact, I was a bit surprised by the level of detail covered in the article.


I mentioned last week that we are entering the second half of the current phase of IT technology – the steep part of the S curve, where the real changes take place. An interesting thing to look out for at this stage are the signposts along the journey that will be pointing to the next phase. I wonder if this work by HP labs will be one of those markers -- or will it just be an enabler to generate maximum value within the current phase.


Well, I pulled off two presentations yesterday at HP Discover. If the two I am doing today are half as effective as the ones yesterday, I’ll be happy.

A new dimension of sensing for smartphones?


molecule2.pngIEEE Spectrum had an interesting article about Tricorder-like Mobile Phones Enabled by Nanotechnology. It the article it describes how spectrometer-like capabilities could be built into it. For some people, it could change the whole view of the value of the smartphone.


Similar to phones having special modes for sports or low light photography, they could have modes for sensing the ripeness of fruit based on the gases given off (Ethylene). They may even be useful in detecting illnesses, like diabetes. There is even an Xprize in this space. HP labs did some work on this kind of sensing as well.


Now if you only had the battery life to make it through the day.


A new approach for addressing reliable and secure desktop computing

firebird.pngEarlier this month, HP SureStart was formally announced.It is an approach created collaborately by HP labs and the personal systems group to redefine the level of security when a personal computer starts up.


This new approach guarantees the reliability of the very first piece of code that starts a PC platform, HP SureStart ensures a full chain of trust in a PC’s operation, including security solutions deployed on the platform above the firmware that might otherwise be compromised by a low level firmware attack. It also addresses other issues (like boot up power interruption) corrupting the environment – it just can’t happen – the PC will always be able to rise from the ashes of some BIOS related incident. The software detects the problem and heals the Boot Block before next boot or power cycle transition. This is part of HP’s focus on secure computing.


The HP SureStart protection is very different than Intel ® Boot Guard that is built into the 4th Gen processors. It is interesting to me though that there is almost no interest from the consumer space for this level of protection. It is targeted at the commercial grade computers.

Derived data can be where the value is…

derived data.pngI was talking to a group of people today about analytics and big data and happen to mention derived data – one example of this is derived behavior. This concept was not something they were familiar with so I tried to explain it to them.


There is actually much more information available to work with than we think in many cases. It is not just about what organizations have traditionally thought of as ‘data’ but also available is derived data, based on who is sending what to whom and what is the relationship between the entities that are interacting. This is at the heart of the Compass demonstration HP Labs presented at Discover a few years back.


Derived data also lets us apply information from sensors to less intelligent objects that are in the same area or situation. For example, all the data in the same temperature controlled warehouse should be experience the same environment – we can derive this information based on the common context.


The concept of derived data points back to the idea that context is king and this derived data helps provide the context.

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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
The opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the authors, not of HP. By using this site, you accept the Terms of Use and Rules of Participation.