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IBM’s Watson now can debate with humans on complex topics, understand business lingo

IBM is announcing several new IBM Watson technologies designed to help organizations begin identifying, understanding and analyzing some of the most challenging aspects of the English language with greater clarity, for greater insights.

The new technologies represent the first commercialization of key Natural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities to come from IBM Research’s Project Debater, the only artificial intelligence system capable of debating humans on complex topics. For example, a new advanced sentiment analysis feature is defined to identify and analyze idioms and colloquialisms for the first time. Phrases, like ‘hardly helpful,’ or ‘hot under the collar,’ have been challenging for AI systems because they are difficult for algorithms to spot. With advanced sentiment analysis, businesses can begin analyzing such language data with Watson APIs for a more holistic understanding of their operations. Further, IBM is bringing technology from IBM Research for understanding business documents, such as PDF’s and contracts, to also add to their AI models.

“Language is a tool for expressing thought and opinion, as much as it is a tool for information,” said Rob Thomas, General Manager, IBM Data and AI. “This is why we’re harvesting technology from Project Debater and integrating it into Watson – to enable businesses to capture, analyze, and understand more from human language and start to transform how they utilize intellectual capital that’s codified in data.”

Today IBM is announcing that it plans to integrate Project Debater technologies into Watson throughout the year, with a focus on advancing clients’ ability to exploit natural language:

A. Analysis – Advanced Sentiment Analysis. IBM has enhanced sentiment analysis to be able to better identify and understand complicated word schemes like idioms (phrases and expressions) and so called, sentiment shifters, which are combinations of words that, together, take on new meaning, such as, “hardly helpful.” This technology will be integrated into Watson Natural Language Understanding this month. In addition, we are announcing a new classification technology that will enable clients to create AI models that can more easily classify clauses that occur in business documents, like procurement contracts. Based on Project Debater’s deep learning-based classification technology, the new capability can learn from as few as several hundred samples to do new classifications quickly and easily. It is planned to be added to Watson Discovery later this year.

B. Briefs – Summarization. This technology pulls textual data from a variety of sources to provide users with a summary of what is being said and written about a particular topic. An early version of Summarization was leveraged at The GRAMMYS this year to analyze over 18 million articles, blogs and bios to produce bite-sized insights on hundreds of GRAMMY artists and celebrities. The data was then infused into the red carpet live stream, on-demand videos and photos across www.grammy.com to give fans deeper context about the leading topics of the night. It is planned to be added to IBM Watson Natural Language Understanding later in the year.

C. Clustering – Advanced Topic Clustering. Building on insights gained from Project Debater, new topic clustering techniques will enable users to “cluster” incoming data to create meaningful “topics” of related information, which can then be analyzed. The technique, which is planned to be integrated into Watson Discovery later this year, will also allow subject matter experts to customize and fine-tune the topics to reflect the language of specific businesses or industries, like insurance, healthcare and manufacturing.

IBM, has long been a leader in NLP, developing technologies that enable computer systems to learn, analyze and understand human language – including sentiment, dialects, intonations, and more – with increasing accuracy and speed. IBM has brought its NLP technology, much of which was born in IBM Research, to market via Watson. Product such as, Watson Discovery for document understanding, IBM Watson Assistant for virtual agents, and Watson Natural Language Understanding for advanced sentiment analysis, are all infused with NLP.

ESPN Fantasy Football uses Watson Discovery and Watson Knowledge Studio to analyze millions of football data sources each day during the season to offer millions of fantasy football players real-time insights. By processing natural language, Watson identifies the tone and sentiment of news articles, blogs, forums, rankings, projections, podcasts and tweets that cover everything from locker room insights to injury analysis. ESPN Fantasy Football surfaces these insights in player cards that snapshot the “boom” and “bust” potential of each player, as well as a “Player Buzz” section that summarizes the positive or negative commentary about a player.

KPMG, a multinational professional services network, and one of the Big Four accounting organizations, worked with IBM to create an AI solution based on a variety of Watson services, including Watson Natural Language Understanding. This technology makes it more effective for companies to identify, claim and retain potential R&D income tax credits. Developed by KPMG, the solution can help clients increase the amount of R&D income tax credits they capture because the Watson technology is able to review more documentation quickly while minimizing disruption to the client’s business.

In the past year, KPMG clients have seen more potential for R&D tax credits, with some projects even seeing more than a 1000% increase in the number of documents reviewed. The solution helps clients uncover more potential activities that qualify for additional income tax credits, while reducing business disruption. As a result, engineers and scientists can stay focused on innovative R&D work by spending less time on income tax compliance activities.

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