Cognos, Watson, and AIDAUG

There has been some interesting changes in the world of Cognos. As of version 11.2.1, Cognos has been renamed to “IBM Cognos with Watson”. IBM Cognos with WatsonPaul is a mouthful, so I’m going to stick with boring CognosPaul.

But what does this change actually mean? Watson has already been integrated into Cognos with the exploration studio, so is this just marketing? The answer may surprise you!

Actually, the answer probably won’t surprise you, and I loath clickbait. I tend to be pragmatic, and marketing is extremely low on my priority list. Yes, I believe at the moment it’s mostly a marketing ploy. The direction is more implementation of Watson smarts. Right now we’ve got data modules with a recommendation engine, data exploration, and some forecasting elements. In terms of AI it’s a little underwhelming. Yes there’s voice recognition and some conversational elements, but I’m becoming jaded.

But imagine if Cognos could automatically identify candidates for matching data to other datasets? IBM as a company has access to a huge repository of additional data. The Weather Company (An IBM Company) could be a huge candidate for enriching data. Logistics companies especially could benefit from weather analysis and prediction for routing. If Cognos could do the same with internal data sets at a company might be a game changer. Intelligently linking disperate data sources can be difficult at the best of times.

The smarts in data modeling is fairly complicated. A good overview can be found here. The implications of the influence detection should mean that “what if” scenarioing will be more effective as the user tweaks the influence values.

And all of this leads to AIDAUG. As a Philly boy I pronounce it “‘Ayyyy dawg”, but some of my fellow co-founders think I’m crazy for it. AIDAUG stands for AI and Data Analytics User Group. It’s an IBM sponsored user group with the goal of influencing the direction of AI development.

AI has a huge influence on day to day life. Reviewing (and often rejecting) resumes, deciding on bank loans, chatbots, advertising, or even social media sites deciding which posts to deliver to the end users, AI is everywhere.

Almost every aspect of AI has positive and negative implementations. Let’s take text analytics. Over decades medical research has produced millions of papers. Drug interactions and symptoms are recorded and saved, even when they don’t produce the desired results now a future drug may rely on this research. AI can be used to read through billions of these documents. But at the same time the exact same methodologies can be used to harvest user data for malicious actors. You know all of those stupid quizzes like “What was your first car” or “how far do you live from where you were born”? Each time a user answers, malicious actors can use AI to harvest those results and build detailed profiles for each user. That profile can be used to build focused ads to influence opinion or at worst be a source for identity theft.

Video editing is also a great use for AI, upscaling ancient films is a wonderful use. But then we also have these “deepfakes” which can be used to make fraudulent or even pornographic videos. AI will intelligently remap a face on a video or even a photo.

And finally we have facial recognition. Loved by both airlines, security services, and police states. There is much that can be said about it, but I couldn’t possibly state it better than the current CEO of IBM, Arvind Krishna, who wrote in a letter to Congress: “IBM firmly opposes and will not condone uses of any technology, including facial recognition technology offered by other vendors, for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedoms, or any purpose which is not consistent with our values and Principles of Trust and Transparency.”

But I can’t leave a reference to facial recognition without mentioning the cancer fighting pastry AI. It’s a great read:

Ultimately I hope AIDAUG will help guide AI development in an ethical direction. I invite everyone reading this to join, even if you have only a passing interest in AI. Please check us out at