Artificial Intelligence: IBM’s watson now understands idioms after ‘sentiment’ update

“Phrases like ‘hardly helpful’ and ‘hot under the collar’ typically trip up AI systems

Artificial intelligence researchers at IBM have introduced a major upgrade to the famed Watson computer, allowing it to understand idioms and colloquialisms for the first time.

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.

“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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