IBM Makes Watson Assistant Smarter with Project Debater Infusion
by Jim Lundy
This week at IBM Think 2020, IBM announced major enhancements to its flagship conversational AI platform Watson Assistant. IBM announced that it will add some strong AI capabilities from its Project Debater AI system into Watson Assistant. Specifically, IBM is adapting the sentiment analysis technology it developed with Project Debater to enable Watson to understand contextual and idiomatic language better. In this blog, we review the announcement and consider its significance for the growing conversational AI market.
Project Debater and the IBM Chatbot
Discovering how to make an AI program that learns like a human is one of the great challenges faced by conversational AI developers. As Aragon has stated in the past, the next stage of the conversational AI market involves moving beyond the stimulus-response chatbots of the past towards genuinely intelligent virtual assistants that add value to businesses. Effective chatbot API offerings will also be vital to the growth of this market.
Since announcing Project Debater, IBM has worked to hone the platform’s conversational abilities to challenge and debate humans on different topics. Rather than fully integrating the debating feature into Watson, however, IBM has chosen to focus on improving the chatbot’s sentiment analysis. For chatbots that operate in contact centers or customer success teams, the ability to parse intent and deeper meaning is vital to driving growth with customer-facing virtual agents.
Adding project debater into Watson gives IBM an edge, enabling more complex and detailed conversations with the potential for real understanding. This means that Watson Assistant is making a serious play in the race for the best chatbot, a play that is moving it towards full-fledged conversational AI.
Conversational AI and the Rise of Digital Assistants
In the past, Aragon predicted that conversational AI will be widely adopted throughout the enterprise when providers begin to offer tools that are truly intelligent and capable of adding unique value. The workplace of the future will be staffed with digital assistants that support human agents by handling repetitive or simple job operations. With systems like IBM Watson text analysis, enterprises can move towards more effective customer communications solutions. In its Watson virtual agent demo, IBM has shown how the tool can streamline business processes by helping customers serve themselves and reach human agents only when necessary. These improved capabilities give IBM an edge and show that all of its work in R&D for AI is starting to pay off.
Complete Conversations with Watson Assistant
Today chatbots are very good at handling simple, single-threaded tasks, such as scheduling a call or answering a question. With Project Debater, Watson will be able to have long conversations about a particular topic and give contextual answers that provide users with valuable insights. The IBM Watson app can help enterprises respond appropriately to the underlying sentiment of customer requests. The tool’s artificial intelligence API enables developers to learn how to create an AI program using the platform. Through the IBM Watson API, enterprises can develop their own unique solutions.
How these new developments will affect IBM’s market share and the future of IBM stock remains to be seen. However, the decision to improve upon its AI chatbot will undoubtedly push the field of conversational AI forward as other providers feel the pressure to compete. Tools like the Watson virtual agent API will empower developers. The conversational AI market is growing, and Watson Assistant is raising the bar.
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