IBM equips enterprise AI platform Watson with upgrades from Project Debater

IBM equips enterprise AI platform Watson with upgrades from Project Debater
Photo Credit: Reuters
11 Mar, 2020

American multinational technology giant IBM’s enterprise suite of artificial intelligence (AI) services, applications and tooling IBM Watson will now be able to understand business language better with the addition of upgrades from IBM’s Project Debater.

Advanced sentiment analysis, summarisation, advanced topic clustering and customisable classification of elements in business documents are some key functionalities that Watson would benefit from after the upgrade, the company said.

IBM, which witnessed a demand for such additions from its banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) and telecom clients, said that the new technologies added to Watson would be the first commercialisation of natural language processing (NLP) capabilities from the Project Debater.  

Project Debater is IBM’s artificial intelligence project that was designed to engage in debates against humans. Project Debater took on two Israeli debating champions for the first time in June 2018 at San Francisco. Its most recent debate was in February last year against Harish Natarajan, a university debating champion who is currently the head of economic risk at AKE International, a UK-based security and risk consultation firm.

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According to IBM, Project Debater uses AI algorithms in three areas: data-driven speech writing and discovery, listening comprehension and modeling human dilemmas.

IBM will integrate the Project Debater technologies into Watson through Watson Discovery, the company’s flagship enterprise search engine; Watson Assistant, the AI bot for conversational AI; and Watson’s own natural language understanding platform.

The addition of capabilities from Project Debater would help companies identify, understand and analyse business languages with more clarity and derive better insights from the same.

“With these new capabilities infused in Watson, Indian organisations have the potential to enhance everything from customer care and transportation to finance and education," Gargi Dasgupta, director of IBM Research India and the chief technology officer of IBM India-south Asia, said. 

An example of how the additions would work: The AI system can now decipher phrases such as ‘hardly helpful,’ or ‘hot under the collar’ for their intended meaning. This has been accomplished through the advanced sentiment analysis feature, which would allow Watson to analyse and identify idioms and colloquialisms for the first time.  

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A recent study by Mumbai-based Greyhound Research said that over 73% of large organisations globally are either already running a project or looking to launch a chatbot that is backed by intelligent NLP-based solutions in the next 12 months.

Sanchit Vir Gogia, chief analyst and founder of Greyhound Research, said that the new Watson capabilities would cluster a variety of incoming data by topics, summarise it for business users and provide enhanced sentiment analysis, which is a significant step forward in the field of NLP.

“Such technologies can significantly benefit organisations looking for better insights from their data and most importantly, establish a better connection with customers and stakeholders," Gogia added.