Watson gets a customer service job.
IBM’s Watson computer system, which famously beat the world’s two best Jeopardy players in 2011, is now rolling out as a system able to be used as a customer service agent on the web and in mobile apps.
The new software has been adapted to run inside an IBM data center, and to spawn new, independent instances of Watson for each IBM client. “We’ve now massively parallelized Watson and reduced the footprint,” says High, making the software 75 percent smaller and 25 percent faster. Companies can use tools provided by IBM to connect a cloud-based Watson to a chat interface on their website or mobile app, or allow it to answer customer e-mails.
Watson prepped for Jeopardy by ingesting four terabytes of data, including the entirety of Wikipedia, but the Engagement Advisor version is provided to companies as a blank slate, albeit one with an understanding of human language. Watson must first feed on documents about the products and topics it is to discuss; then it’s fed tens of sample questions and answers to learn the type of language used by customers to refer to the knowledge it just ingested.