Blog, Cognitive computing

Cogito and cognitive biases

As humans immersed in an ocean of data, we strive to take advantage of all of the information available to us in a way that is both rational and logical. However, whether we realize it or not, we make many decisions based on our gut instinct, on limited personal experience and on very little information, often from unverifiable sources (for example, infographics, posts or articles or even celebrities who promote products that we’re interested in).

We often assume that the first page of search results are the “right” results, and these become our point of reference around which to make our considerations. We may add that to the fact that it’s practically in our DNA to prefer and actively seek out the information, ideas and opinions that match their own while discarding information to the contrary. This is known as “confirmation bias”.

Soon, we completely ignore the results of our research because we tend to over value and attach ourselves to the first piece of information offered to us that confirms our preconceived ideas. This is known as “anchor bias”. (The book “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by psychologist and nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman covers these topics in depth).

Regardless of how limited our base data may be and the errors or noise that it may contain, other distortions are lurking that contribute to us making choices that are less logical and instinctive. For one, many of us are subject to what is known as the “sunk cost fallacy.” This essentially means that we may be more motivated by the prospect of loss than the promise of gains. If we’ve already invested in something, we may continue to invest in it, even if it has proven to be a poor choice (that has a lot to do with humans’ innate aversion to losing, but that’s another post). Additionally, we may take the mental shortcut known as an “availability heuristic” to give greater relevance in decision making to things that are top of mind (often driven by the rapid succession of information pushed to us), even if they’re not actually relevant.

Helping people make the best decisions in a timely manner is the true added value of cognitive computing. While it cannot completely prevent these cognitive biases that instinctively trigger our brains, it can mitigate the damage. Thanks to its enrichment of the information on which we base our choices, cognitive computing can reduce the noise in information and offer quality content and documentation that might otherwise be ignored.

With deep semantic analysis, we can transparently and automatically help people make better decisions. Cognitive computing helps by making various types of content accessible and verifiable, especially heterogenous types of content focused on a specific topic of interest and provides new interpretations, suggesting unexpected relationships between data based on any inspiration or choice.

And, it offers new ways of interpreting reports and data that are at the foundation of knowledge gathering and decision making.

The cognitive Cogito technology analyzes content the way that people do, proposing results that anyone can independently verify (unlike cryptic statistical-mathematical algorithms where the output itself is a challenge to work with, much less to interpret).

Thanks to the structured, built-in knowledge (common sense knowledge) on which Cogito is based (the result of hundreds of human years of development), Expert System’s technology helps us overcome the cognitive biases typical of human thinking. It minimizes the distortions that arise from noise generated from irrelevant data and, like a wise counselor, supports our choices by offering the best, most tangible and targeted content available. Cogito: “more haste, less speed” ).

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