The basis of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century was the reliance on physical machinery to dramatically increase the productivity of industries ranging from textiles to transportation. The development of autonomous machines that can learn, recognize patterns and make complex decisions marks the next phase of automation. Cognitive computing applies software solutions to tasks that could not ordinarily be accomplished without human intervention. Applications range from driverless cars, face recognition algorithms, and natural language processing to data mining and algorithmic high-frequency trading. The global market for smart machines is already a multi-billion dollar industry that is expected to grow by double digits over the next few years. The automation of knowledge-based work will have broad effects on society, increasing economic productivity and providing a cornucopia of wealth.

This case study examines the impact of advanced cognitive computing on society, science, policy, ethics and more.

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