New AI Tool By IBM To Make Computers Fluent In Human Speech

A new technology that evidently helps computers to better understand human communication will be commercialized by IBM.

With the improvement of artificial intelligence systems in their abilities to process and learn from large quantities of data, they have become more important for businesses. However artificial intelligence systems have not been able to completely understand the kinds of nuances that appear in everyday communication engaged in by people.

That problem will arguably be better addressed and human language will could be understood better by new tools that are being added to its AI system, Watson, by IBM.

IBM had developed the “natural language processing” technology for its Research’s Project Debater, the AI machine system that was the first every machine to successfully compete against a world class human debater last year.

In for the machine to be able to effectively participate in the debate, it was necessary for the Project Debater to posses the ability to listen to its opponent debater, as well as understand the arguments put forward by the opposing debater and devise an appropriate response – without any help from the internet. That necessitated the AI powered machine to be able to adequately identify as well as understand and assimilate the colloquialisms and idioms used in speeches. It also needed to understand certain dialects or industry-specific terms — such as “open a can of worms” or “hardly helpful”. In earlier versions of AI powered systems, a machine could actually think that the human speaker was talking about really opening a can filled with worms.

Following the commercialization, IBM’s natural language processing tools could be used by companies to go through documents and conduct research more efficiently and effectively, enhance automated customer service and field incoming communications.

“Everything that happens in a business is based on communication between employees, business partners, customers, and communication takes the form of emails, chats, text, documents,” Rob Thomas, general manager of IBM Data and AI, told the media.. “Some of the best data a company has is codified in all that language, all those communications.”

The ability of the new IBM system to do “sentiment analysis” – the ability of machines to go through what someone is saying or has written, and then understand what is actually being attempted to be said or communicated by the human and the context for such communication, is one of the newer aspects of the new system compared to the current systems available.

“A lot of how we talk and interact, certainly in customer support, is using a lot of idioms or terms that are specific to an industry,” Thomas said.

Companies could also conduct a deep examination and gain insights from large sheaths of documents and other written communications after the capability is added to the existing IBM AI tool called Watson Discovery.

“If Watson is going through a million documents, it can identify: What’s the information that’s most relevant given the problem that’s trying to be solved?” Thomas said.

“Trust is essential — being able to use AI that you can explain, that’s free from bias, that’s trusted,” Thomas said.

(Adapted from

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