A perfect match between Watson and Guiding Eyes
“In 2016, we were given the opportunity to do a project with San Jose State University to see if Watson could improve our predictions of whether a dog that was already in training would be successful as a guide dog,” continues Russenberger. Guiding Eyes migrated more than half a million canine health records and more than 65,000 temperament records on thousands of dogs to the IBM Cloud. The resulting analysis helped Guiding Eyes better predict which dogs would make it through the program.
“We had an 85 percent prediction accuracy based on a PhD study at a top university,” says Russenberger. “Using the same data set, Watson was able to predict success with 100 percent accuracy.”
Taking the next step, researchers used IBM Watson Personality Insights and Natural Language Processing to find patterns, traits and characteristics — both human and canine — that would help create successful matches between dogs and trainers.
“I was just blown away,” Russenberger says. “They were able to predict if a puppy raiser would be successful with a particular dog. Watson was able to use the natural language comments in our records to do that, which is something we hadn’t been able to do at all.”
Trapani says getting all the variables right is critical, not only for the puppies and the people they will eventually serve, but for the puppy raisers as well. “It’s very expensive to put a dog through the program, and it’s all supported by private donations,” she says. “So it’s costly to fail, and it’s heartbreaking to fail, because you have people like me who devote a year of their time and emotionally invest in the success of a puppy, and when that puppy doesn’t succeed, you feel like you failed them somehow.”
Trapani is now raising a puppy that IBM is sponsoring. TJ is a confident, 9-month-old yellow lab, and a regular at the IBM Learning Center in Armonk. He welcomes new hires to IBM, helping them understand the power of Watson. When visiting other locations, including Trapani’s office in Armonk, he’s learning to sit quietly in his bed, playing with toys or napping while she works. When they’re not at work, he accompanies her to stores and restaurants, resisting temptation on all sides.