The defining moments of IBM Watson last decade
By Tim Suzor | 3 minute read | January 16, 2020
Unveiled to the world just under a decade ago, today, IBM Watson is being used by millions of people in thousands of different ways to unlock the value of data in new and profound ways. Across countless industries, Watson is helping businesses around the world harness their data, increase productivity, and improve customer experiences with the power of AI. Watson is augmenting human productivity and creativity, and empowering teams to focus on more complex, higher-value work. Watson has had a busy decade, and has achieved everything from defeating two “Jeopardy!” champions, redefining the customer care experience after natural disasters, taking AI technology to the US Open and Wimbledon, and altering the way we look at bias and explainability in AI. Here are just a few of Watson’s greatest hits so far. There’s much more to come.
Besting quiz champions
Watson was publicly launched in 2011 when it competed on Jeopardy! in an iconic, three-day showdown with two human competitors. Not just any two humans: Watson took on two of the show’s greatest champions in Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings— and won. With that victory came $1 million in prize money — which IBM donated to World Vision International and World Community Grid, two charitable organizations — and a powerful display of the incredible potential of AI systems to augment human intelligence.
Improving responsiveness after disasters
In the insurance industry, some of the most important calls come under the most stressful circumstances. Call volumes can surge in the wake of natural disasters, creating backlogs and long wait times for stressed policyholders. This is why CodeObjects used Watson to develop InsurBot.ai, an AI assistant that eliminates call center holds, reduces costs, and helps put anxious customers on the road to recovery more quickly. The assistant helps improve responsiveness by automatically responding to policyholders’ questions and requests and by automating business transactions – eliminating call wait times, saving approximately $1 per minute, and drastically reducing average call times.
Hitting a winner
AI landed at both the US Open and Wimbledon this decade, where Watson is being utilized in a multitude of ways. AI is being used to refine and select match highlights by analyzing crowd and players reactions from each game, and is helping coaches and players optimize training regimes. Watson even became Wimbledon’s first AI tennis pundit, harnessing decades of data from singles and doubles championships to find what makes a great Wimbledon champion.
Pioneering AI for customer care
With Watson Assistant, IBM is redefining the customer service experience in countless industries. Thanks to leading natural language processing and machine learning capabilities, Watson helps consumers interact with their favorite brands on their terms, and connects customers to the answers they need from service providers — when and how they need them. In 2019, IBM announced several breakthroughs for Watson Assistant, including a prebuilt chat interface, improved integrations across channels, and more developed AI recommendation capabilities. Exceeding customer expectations has never been easier.
Ensuring explainability and tackling bias
To address the critical issues of explainability and bias in AI models, IBM launched Watson OpenScale in 2018. The evolving technology allows users to track and measure AI outcomes to ensure explainability of models throughout runtime of AI systems – a major hurdle in AI implementation. It helps trace and explain decisions AI helps make, including detection and correction of bias in models. It works by automatically identifying attributes such as sex, ethnicity, material status, or age as models run in real time, eliminating the need for manual selection of attributes prone to human biases. Watson OpenScale adapts and governs AI to changing business situations — for models built and running anywhere – helping to ensure compliance and build confidence in AI outcomes.
Harnessing the cloud
Today, Watson can truly be used anywhere. Organizations and enterprises can now run AI services from anywhere, in any environment— whether it be private, public, or multi-cloud, or through direct integration with IBM Cloud services. This open approach brings Watson to wherever data resides, allowing companies to unearth hidden insights, automate processes, and ultimately drive business performance.
Over the last decade, Watson has helped millions improve and redefine the ways work gets done and shape key business decision. With Watson, users are applying AI to their diverse data sources, trusting the recommendations.
Read about other ways IBM Watson is being used to change our world.