The robot revolution is inevitably trundling along  with businesses increasingly automating menial, repetitive or time intensive tasks. Chatbots are part of that move, helping to project a friendly face of sorts, or rather, a presence online to handle most mainstream queries outside of working hours and to act as a first line of contact to filter the usual questions fielded by people. Artificial Intelligences like IBM’s Watson are currently being deployed at the front lines even as research is ongoing to make them capable of truly human interaction by understanding nuances, context and content.

In a recent press conference by IBM, they showcased their Watson A.I to invited guests. For the uninitiated, Watson isn’t referring to Sherlock Holmes’ mustachioed partner nor does it refer to a chain of chemists. It is actually IBM’s own self learning artificial intelligence that is designed to learn and respond to questions in a natural manner rather than in a stilted robotic fashion.

The live field test had guests interacting with the Watson AI via the Telegram messaging app by representatives from IBM. The test saw guests fielding a variety of questions and most were answered in a competent fashion and in one case, it was able to intimate and connect a human reference to being hungry and then suggesting places to eat. A request to search and arrange a list of Beatles albums chronologically was expediently handled by referring the questioner to a Wikipedia link. That was surprisingly smart.

To show how easy it was to implement Watson into a variety of commercial and field applications via IBM’s Bluemix cloud platform, IBM brought in a group of students from Monash university who created an interesting project. The team of students did not have any programming background and managed to use Watson to cobble together an interesting program over the course of a month that tracks Twitter comments live to measure consumer sentiments on a brand or subject. It’s an impressive showing of what Watson and the future is capable of. The next time you chat with customer service for a brand online, it may just an implementation of Watson chatting with you.

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