IBM’s Watson could merge with Siri

watson-siri

IBM and Apple’s new enterprise partnership is already being called one of the “most important and powerful tech partnerships ever.”

But outside of selling more iPads, iPhones and Macs in business, what else could Apple get out of the deal, which was announced Tuesday? According to a new report, Watson — IBM’s Jeopardy-winning A.I. capable of understanding natural language.

Citing a cognitive technology expert, VentureBeat makes a convincing case that Watson and Siri might be the perfect pair.

“If Siri partners with Watson, people will take notice,” the expert said. “People think Siri is a joke. With Watson, no other cognitive technology out there has the ability to beat the world’s best Jeopardy contestants. And what this partnership means is Watson having access to Apple’s data, which would help power Watson’s own cognitive data. So Watson and Siri would fit together perfectly, like a puzzle.”

But how would Watson be able to improve Siri, if what they both do is understand natural language?

The key distinction between Watson and Siri is that Watson is a natural-language AI. In essence, while Siri is programmed to understand natural speech, it can’t formulate answers on its own: Instead, it needs to take structured data from third parties, like Wolfram Alpha and Rotten Tomatoes, in order to answer questions.

But Watson, unlike Siri, is capable of learning and coming up with answers itself. Ask Watson to give you the best pizza sauce recipe, for example, and it might try to synthesize a recipe itself, based upon everything it knows.

Basically, if Watson and Siri get into bed together, Siri could actually learn about you, using what it knows to intelligently come up with answers that are perfectly tailored for you. Siri could finally be more than just the dumb blonde on your iPhone.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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