IBM’s Cognitive Storage Trains Computers To Act Like Brains

Data Storage
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IBM researchers teach computers to decide how to store various types of data, just like our brain archives long-term memory but dumps irrelevant information

IBM has shown off a concept called cognitive storage that it says will train computers to decide for themselves how to store data.

The company says its researchers have been teaching computers the difference between high value and low value data, so they can determine which type of data needs archiving and which data will be needed for near-term use.

IBM likened cognitive storage to how our brains work, archiving significant memories and labeling irrelevant information as low value data.

Significant experiences

“The memories you are recalling were captured because your brain automatically puts a high value on significant experiences, such as a beautiful sunset or an amazing dinner,” said IBM in a blog post.

“Simultaneously, your brain also automatically puts a low value or forgets irrelevant things like waiting at a traffic light or checking in for your flight. With cognitive storage, computers can do the same.

“Computers can be taught to learn the difference between high value and low value data i.e. memories or information, and this differentiation can be used to determine what is stored, where it is stored and for how long.”

IBMIBM published its research this week in the IEEE journal Computer, with IBM researchers Giovanni Cherubini, Jens Jelitto and Vinodh Venkatesan introducing the concept of cognitive storage.

Whilst not available yet, IBM hopes in the near future cognitive storage will change the way companies archive and use data.

“The idea is based on a metric they call data value, which is analogous to determining the value of a piece of art — the higher the demand and the rarer the piece typically means it will have a higher value, requiring tight security,” said IBM.

“For example, if 1,000 employees are accessing the same files every day, the value of that data set should be very high, just like a priceless Van Gogh. A cognitive storage system would learn this and store those files on fast media like flash. In addition, the system would automatically backed up these files multiple times. Lastly, the files may want to have extra security so they cannot be accessed without authorization.”

But cognitive storage can also adapt.

For example, IBM said that a rarely accessed file like a PDF of 20-year-old tax documents would be stored on cold media like tape, but the cognitive storage system would know that tax records need to be kept for 7 years and then deleted.

“In many situations, data value can also change over time and a cognitive storage system can also adapt,” said IBM.

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