Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Watson's new gig

You might remember Watson as the black box digital Jeopardy champion from a few years back. You might have forgotten that after leaving showbiz, IBM's natural language-using super-computer turned to oncology, providing diagnosis based on user answers to questions. Now Watson is moving into the customer service industry, having been tapped to provide answers to chat, telephone, and email questions for Royal Bank of Canda, Nielson (television ratings), among other companies.

Because I do not work in a field that Watson could easily move into (for now), I can look at this development with a certain degree of dispassion. But here is more evidence that one huge industry previously dependent on human labor is about to be seriously disrupted. The point isn't that millions of telecommunications workers will suddenly be unemployed but rather that millions more will never be hired, their positions taken up by 'good-enough' intelligence of Watson.
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