IBM’s Watson Can Now Understand Idioms

IBM really got their ducks in a row prior to Watson’s latest update.

According to The Independent, artificial intelligence researchers at Big Blue have added a significant upgrade during Watson’s latest update: the famed computer can now understand idioms and colloquialisms.

IBM says the update makes it the first commercial AI system capable of identifying, understanding and analysing some of the most challenging aspects of the English language.

Phrases like “hardly helpful” and “hot under the collar” are tricky for algorithms to spot, meaning AI is unable to debate complex topics or have nuanced conversations with humans.

Thanks to a suite of technologies from IBM Research’s Project Debater however, Watson won’t get tripped up over such phrases.

This, IBM says, marks the first commercialization of Natural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities, making Watson “the only AI system capable of debating humans on complex topics.”

“Language is a tool for expressing thought and opinion, as much as it is a tool for information,” said Rob Thomas, a general manager at IBM Data and AI.

“This is why we believe that advancing our ability to capture, analyse, and understand more from language with NLP will help transform how businesses utilise their intellectual capital that is codified in data.”

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