This new toy looks so bright! Do you know why ?

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Last week I found that new toy  called “CogniToys” for infants will be developed in the project of Kickstarter, one of the biggest platforms in cloud funding.  The developer is elemental path, one of the three winners of the IBM Watson competition. Let see why it is so bright!

According to the web site of this company,  this toy is connected to the internet.  When a child talks to this toy, it can reply because this toy can see what a child says and answer the question from a child.  It usually requires less than one second to answer because IBM Watson-powered system is powerful enough to calculate answers quickly.

 

Let us look at the descriptions of this company’s technology.

“The Elemental Path technology is built to easily license and integrate into existing product lines. Our dialog engine is able to utilize some of the most advanced language processing algorithms available driving the personalization of our platform, and keeping the interaction going between toy and child.”

Key words are 1. Dialog    2. Language processing   3. Personalization

 

1. Dialog

This toy communicates with children by conversation, rather than programming. Therefore technology called “speech recognition” is needed in it.  This technology is applied in real-time machine translation such as Microsoft Skype, too.

 

2. Language processing

In the area of machine learning, it is called “Natural language processing”. Based on the structure of sentence and phrase, the toy understands what children say.  IBM Watson is very expert in the field of natural language processing because Watson should understand the meaning of questions in Jeopardy contests before.

 

3. Personalization

It is beneficial when children talk to this toy, it knows children preference in advance. This technology is called “Personalization”.  Through interactions between children and the toy, it can learn what children like to cognize. This technology is oftentimes used in retailers such as Amazon and Netflix. There is no disclosure about the method of personalization as far as I know.  I am very interested in how the personalization mechanism works.

 

In short, machine learning enables this toy to work and be smart. Functions of Machine Learning are provided as a service by big IT companies, such as IBM and Microsoft.  Therefore, this kind of applications is expected to be put out to the market in future. This is amazing, isn’t it?  I imagine next versions of the toy can see images,  identify what they are and share images with children because technology called image recognition is also offered as a service by big companies.

I ordered one CogniToy through Kickstarter. It is expected to deliver in November this year. I will report how it works when I get it!

 

Note:IBM, IBM Watson Analytics, the IBM logo are trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. 

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Is this message spoken by human or machine?!

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Firstly, could you watch the video ?   Our senior instructor speaks about himself.  It sounds natural for me,  far better than my poor English. Then the question comes. Who speaks in reality?  Human or machine?  The answer is IBM Watson,  one of the famous artificial intelligence in the world.  When I listened to his (or her?) English, I was very surprised as it sounds very natural and fluent.  I want to have artificial English speakers for a long time in order to develop self speaking apps. Finally, I found it!

This function is one of the new five services provided in IBM Watson Developer Cloud as beta service.   Now it has 13 functions total. Here are new services.

  1. Speech to Text :  Speech can be converted to text in real-time basis. It looks good when I try to convert news broadcast into text.
  2. Text to Speech :  This is used to prepare the video message above without native speakers. It sounds natural for both male and female voices.  English and Spanish (only male) are currently available. One of them is the American English voice used by Watson in the 2011 Jeopardy match
  3. Visual Recognition : When you can input jpg image, Watson can identify what it is with probabilities.  I try several images, however it looks less accurate than I expected so far. In my view it needs improvement to be used in applications.
  4. Concept Insights : According to explanations in the company blog, the Concept Insights service links documents that you provide with a pre-existing graph of concepts based on Wikipedia.   I think it is useful as it works beyond just using keywords in searching information.
  5. Tradeoff Analytics : According to explanations in the company blog, it helps people make better choices when faced with conflicting goals and multiple alternatives, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.  I think it has optimization algorithms in it. It may be useful to construct investment portfolios.

Watson can listen to speeches,  read text and speak it.  It also can see the image and understand what is to some extent. Therefore Watson can do the same thing as human do with new added functions.  Therefore, in theory,  mobile applications can obtain the same functions as people do, such as seeing, reading, listening and speaking.

IBM Watson Developer Cloud has a plan to add new functions as they are ready. Although they are currently beta service,  its quality must be improved gradually as machine learning behind services learns a lot in future. It enables us to develop new services with artificial intelligence to be available in a short period.  It must be amazing. What kind of services do you want? Maybe it will be available in near future !

Note:IBM, IBM Watson, the IBM logo are trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. 

IBM Watson Analytics works well for business managers !

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IBM Watson Analytics was released at 4th Dec 2014.  This is new service where data analysis can be done with conversations and no programming is needed.  I am very interested in this service so I opened my account of IBM Watson Analytics and reviewed it for a week. I would like to make sure how this service works and whether it is good for business manager with no data analysis expertise. Here is a report for that.

 

I think IBM Watson Analytics is good for beginners of data analysis because it is easy to visualize data and we can do predictive analysis without programming the codes. I used the data which includes  score of exam1, exam2 and results of admission.  This data can be obtained at Exercise 2 of Machine Learning at coursera.  Here is the chart drawn by IBM Watson Analytics. In order to draw this chart, All have to do is uploading data, write or choose “what is the relationship between Exam1 and Exam2 by result”, and adjust some options in red box below. In the chart,  green point means ‘admitted’ and blue point means ‘not admitted’. Therefore it enable us to understand what the data means easily.

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Let us move on prediction.  We can analyze data in details here because statistical models are running behind it.  I decided “result” is a target in this analysis.   This target is categorical as it includes only “1:admitted and 0:not admitted” so logistic regression model, which is one of the classification analysis, is chosen automatically by IBM Watson Analytics.  Here is the results of this analysis. In the red box, explanations about this analysis is presented automatically. According to the matrix about score of each exam, we can estimate probability of admission. It is good for business manager as this kind of analysis usually requires  programming with R or MATLAB, python.

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In my view, logistic regression is the first model to learn classification because it is easy to understand and can be applied to a lot of fields. For example I used this model to analyze how the counter parties are likely to be in default when I worked at financial industries.  For marketing,  the target can be interpreted as buy the product or not.  For maintenance of machines,  the target can be interpreted as normal or fail. The more data are corrected, the more we can apply this classification analysis to. I hope many business managers can be familiar with logistic regression by using IBM Watson Analytics.

IBM Watson Analytics has just started now so improvements may be needed to make the service better. However, it is also true that business manager can analyze data without programming by using IBM Watson Analytics.  I would like to highly appreciate the efforts made by IBM.

 

 

Note:IBM, IBM Watson Analytics, the IBM logo are trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. 

Can we talk to computers without programming language?

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IBM announced that Watson analytics provides us data analysis and visualization as a service without programming at 4th Dec 2014. It said that “breakthrough natural language-based cognitive service that can provide instant access to powerful predictive and visual analytic tools for businesses, is available in beta”.  Let us consider what kind of impacts IBM Watson analytics provides us.

 

Watson analytics is good at doing natural language processing.  For example,  if doctors ask Watson analytics how to cure the disease, Watson analytics understand the questions from doctors, research massive data and answer the questions. There is no need to program codes by doctors. It means that we may change from “we should learn computer programming” to “we should know how to have a conversation with computers”.  It may enable a lot of non-programming persons to use computers effectively.

In addition to that,  Watson analytics is also good at handling unstructured data.  These data include text, image, voice and video.  Therefore Watson analytics can analyze e-mail, social media contents, pictures taken by consumers.  So It may be possible to recommend what we should eat at restaurants by taking pictures of menus there, because computers have our health data and they can choose the best meals for our health by analyzing the pictures of menus.

In terms of algorithm,  these functionalities above can be achieved by machine learning.  So the more people start using this service, the more accurate answers by computers are because computers learn from a lot of data and are getting better.

 

IBM Watson analytics may change the landscape of every industry.  Traditionally data analysis can be executed by data scientists, using numerical data and programming languages. However this new kind of data analysis by IBM Watson analytics,  data analysis can be executed by businessmen/women, using e-mail, pictures and video and natural languages.  Machine translation from one language to another will be also available therefore there are less language barrier going forward.  This must be democratization for data analysis. It is exciting when it happens in 2015 !

 

Note:IBM, the IBM logo are trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide.