Artificial intelligence and machine learning have come a long way in a short period of time. IBM devotees know that better than most, as Big Blue's world-renowned AI Watson has been one of the major public faces of the industry ever since it appeared on (and won) the Jeopardy tournament of champions in 2011.
Fast forward seven years and AI is now everywhere. It's powering digital assistants in cell phones and smart speakers, it's providing customer service via chatbots all over the internet, and even decreasing the amount of bandwidth Netflix viewers use to watch their favorite movies and television shows. Through it all, Watson continues to lead the way. Here's a look at three of the more interesting ways that it's been put to use in the real world so far.
As an Insurance Claims Agent
Since Watson made its name as a trivia champion, it seems only natural that it would work well in an industry that requires synthesizing disparate data sources to reach conclusions on the fly. As it turns out, the insurance industry is a natural fit. That's why Japan's Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance chose Watson to automate their claims processing division. The system, as presently constituted, is capable of calculating payouts based on an amazing array of factors. It can read medical reports, understand the recovery processes associated with specific surgeries, and consider the length of hospitals stays to determine the appropriate sum to pay on a claim. The system offered the company a 30% increase in productivity and savings of around one million dollars per year – paying for itself in less than two years.
As a Gemologist
If there's one thing that artificial intelligence has always excelled at, it's mathematics. That aptitude also extends to geometry, leading to another interesting use of the Watson AI. That use is as the brains behind a system called ROSI, or Rational Octahedron Selection Intelligence. In plain English, it's an AI with IBM Watson that helps jewelry shoppers select the perfect diamond for their needs from the over 100,000 + certified GIA diamonds available at any one time. The system makes selections by analyzing 30 points of data about each stone to find the right mix of quality, appearance, and value for each customer. ROSI was trained by making diamond selections alongside world-class human gemologists until it consistently made even better choices than they did. All shoppers have to do is fill out a short questionnaire and ROSI returns the diamond of their dreams.
To Find the Right Therapist
One of the things that Watson does well is natural language processing. It has the capability to understand human speech in ways that go well beyond simple comprehension. That's why smartphone therapy app Talkspace is using Watson's Personality Insights API to help match its users up with live therapists to better serve their individual needs. The system feeds anonymized messages from the app into the Watson-powered system, where they are analyzed to look for things like personality traits, stress levels, and cognitive style. The profile that Watson builds on the user allows it to connect them with a therapist that best compliments their personality, so they'll get the most effective help possible. It's an excellent example of how Watson isn't just helping businesses work smarter – it's helping real people make their own lives better.
No End in Sight
As the Watson ecosystem continues to grow and evolve, these won't be the last interesting use cases for the leader in AI technology. On the contrary, there's an excellent chance that we've seen only a small fraction of what's to come. In fact, as you're reading this, Watson is already cropping up in all kinds of places, from providing sports highlights to writing automobile commercials. Who knows where it will turn up next?