Cognitive computing is here. It’s a new era of computing that mimics the way the human brain works. It leverages the power of data mining, pattern recognition, and natural language processing to make sense of content, and to help us uncover hidden patterns (like personality traits) buried deep within content.
Cognitive computing systems, such as IBM Watson, are radically transforming life as we know it, forging a new age of understanding and dramatically changing how we live and work, how we interact with others, and how we learn and understand. Cognitive systems can help us make better sense of the world around us.
IBM has made a subset of Watson services available online to encourage app developers, data hobbyists, and folks like me and you, to conjure up new and innovative uses of the technology. One such service, Personality Insights, uses linguistic analytics and personality theory to infer attributes from unstructured text.
Cognitive Computing and Personality Insights
According to IBM, “The service outputs personality characteristics that are divided into three dimensions: the Big 5, Values, and Needs. While some services are contextually specific, depending on the domain model and content, Personality Insights only requires a minimum of 3500+ words of any text.”
Businesses will find the detailed personality portraits of individual customers useful for fine-grained customer segmentation and better-quality lead generation. Personality Insights data enable companies to design marketing, product recommendations, and customer experiences that are personal and relevant. Personality Insights can also be used match people to products, services, schools, travel destinations, and to other people. The possibilities are almost endless.
IBM provides app developers an application programming interface (API) to the Personality Insights service that enables software programs to derive insights from virtually any digital communications. The service uses linguistic analysis to infer individuals’ intrinsic personality characteristics from email, blog posts, speeches, text messages, tweets, and social media posts.
I tested out the service with a 636 word article I wrote for EContent Magazine. That’s enough content to run the service, but IBM says the system is designed to work with samples of 3,500 words minimum, ideally 6,000.
Here are the insights revealed about me:
Some of those observations seems spot on; others, not so much. I ran a second test, this time with 3,000 words taken from political essays (some people would say lectures) I wrote on Facebook.
Here are the insights revealed about me:
To me, these observations seem more accurate. I am certainly a bit unconventional. But, I also fancy myself a creative. Your view of me may differ—significantly.
But the profiler throws me for a loop when it says “you are less concerned with artistic or creative activities than most people that participated in our surveys”. What surveys? My guess is that IBM partnered with a personality analysis firm that wrote the content being served up by Watson in this example. Confusing, yes. Show-stopping. No.
Use Case: Cognitive Head Hunter
Let’s try another example. This time around, I’ll point Watson to my Linkedin profile using IBM’s Cognitive Head Hunter service, which uses both Personality Insights—and a second service entitled Concept Insights—to match candidates to jobs.
Here are the insights revealed about me by Cognitive Head Hunter:
Wow. Now that one is spot on. At least I think so. Of course, I wrote the Linkedin profile biography about myself.
What’s uncomfortable about it is the accuracy at pointing out not just strengths, but weaknesses. Ironically, I am a structured content evangelist who, apparently, doesn’t dedicate enough time to getting organized. Okay, that’s true. More than I’d like to admit. But, I’ve been working on it. 🙂
Visualizing Cognitive Insights
Watson also provides the ability to visualize results automatically. The graphic below is a visualization of the results from the analysis of my Linkedin profile. Learn more about the development of Cognitive Head Hunter on GitHub.
What does your Linkedin profile say about you? Try out Cognitive Head Hunter.
The Future of Cognitive Computing
The future of cognitive computing is extremely promising. There are many challenges to be overcome before all of these technologies will be ready for prime time. But, the strength of the technology, and the business plan IBM has for its success, leads us to believe we will be hearing a lot more about cognitive computing and the solutions creative developers weave together. The opportunities are many.
Look to The Content Wrangler to keep you up-to-date on what’s happening in this exciting space.