IBM's Watson conquers Jeopardy, cancer and now customer service

By on May 21, 2013, 5:30 PM

IBM thinks that they can revolutionize customer service using their Watson supercomputer. Famous for beating two of the world’s top Jeopardy! players in 2011, and then going to medical school for oncology and utilization management, Watson is now being tasked with reducing the irritation associated with calling customer service departments.

While it’s not as prestigious a position as fighting cancer, Forbes reports that each year 135 billion customer-service related calls go unresolved. There is definitely room for some hyper-intelligence in the help-desk realm, and IBM thinks they have at least part of the solution.

A new “Ask Watson” feature will be rolled out in the next few months to several of IBM’s partners, which will initiate conversations and direct customers through various channels for help, including online chat, email, text message, and smartphone apps.

Beta customers include Australia’s ANZ Bank, Nielsen, Celcom, HIS, and Royal Bank of Canada. Each company will custom brand and create unique interfaces for the service, and will reportedly begin using the system only with internal employees in the initial phases. Watson will be fed comprehensive data from product databases containing catalogs, training manuals, product disclosures, terms and conditions, emails, customer forums, and call center logs from each company, and will then use this information to respond to customer queries.

In IBM’s internal testing, they recorded an average reduction of forty percent in search time for information. IBM says we should see the first “Watson-powered” consumer apps in the second half of 2013.

User Comments: 13

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JC713 JC713 said:

This will be interesting.

1 person liked this | MilwaukeeMike said:


Pfft... whatever. I saw that Jeopardy episode. Watson only won because the text of the answers (remember Jeopardy is backwards with questions/answers) was fed to him electronically, it's not like it was understanding Alex's speech.

Secondly, it got the final Jeopardy question wrong. The answer was something like 'What United States City has two airports each named after a world war II hero?' Living in the midwest I guessed Chicago because I knew at least Ohare was named after a WWII hero, and that turned out to be the answer. Watson guessed Toronto. So the computer that instantly found the answers to tons of hard questions doesn't know what country Toronto is in.

I'm not too worried yet.

spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

I hope it speaks american english.

1 person liked this | VitalyT VitalyT said:

And to make it sound like a real customer support, I suggest adding Indian accent.

1 person liked this | Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

And to make it sound like a real customer support, I suggest adding Indian accent.

As long as it can understand me it can have a cybertronian one for all I care.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

As long as it can understand me it can have a cybertronian one for all I care.

It will understand you, alright, just like this one...

2 people like this | yRaz yRaz said:

And to make it sound like a real customer support, I suggest adding Indian accent.

I feel bad for lol'ing at that...

1 person liked this | RzmmDX said:

Conquers Cancer seems a bit... exaggerated for my taste... Fighting sure, but conquers implies that we have a cure for cancer...


1 person liked this | Guest said:

We do have cures for cancer. Hemp oil, diet and Vitamin C are all cancer killers but they won't tell you that at medical school or in the media. There is too much vested interest in the cancer industry for this information to be generally released. There was one individual who actively waged war against the hemp industry (yes there was one back in the day). Harry J Aslinger sought to demonize hemp (aka cannabis/marijuana) and it was eventually made illegal. One of the reasons was that it threatened the rise of the oil cartels. Forget all the negative hype about drugs use etc. It is a wonder plant and can produce fuel cleaner and cheaper than oil.

All this info is on the Internet if you dig down. If you succumb to cancer in your life, please seek out the info because it may save your life. We should not have to suffer the prospect of radio/chemotherapy which reduces tumors but also destroys healthy cells around them hence the loss of hair etc. Hemp oil actively seeks out cancer cells, isolates them and destroys them without any adverse effects to the body.

I would like to know how this super monstrosity proposes to "conquer cancer?" Just another ruse to take us off the scent? No one has the authority to make any plant illegal! In doing so it is tantamount to committing a crime against humanity! I hope this info helps.

wcbert said:

Unless we create more new type of jobs to replace the jobs a Watson type computer is going to replace, we are screw. I can see in the future a Watson replacing sales clerks, even people behind fast food places. Most of these jobs are job are entry level jobs. Where are people supposed to get their entry level work skills from in the future? You could have Watson type computer in the future replace teachers of even college professors.

What a minute that would be a good thing as we would have a college professors that when speaking that one could understand as they could speak English and not make you buy their textbooks!

wiyosaya said:

In the

As long as it can understand me it can have a cybertronian one for all I care.

It will understand you, alright, just like this one...

Here's a few more fun ones -

Tygerstrike said:

Personally as a retail manager, I really hate the words "I want to speak to your manager". Because I have to repeat the SAME thing that one of my associates has just told them. If a Watson style computer, could get through the incredibly dense layers of stupid, I would buy it myself. There something to be said for automation.

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