IBM Watson learning to say ‘Konnichiwa’ with SoftBank

IBM has teamed up with Japanese telecommunications and internet company Softbank to help teach IBM Watson Japanese, which is a tricky language due to the Kanji alphabet that is written as a series of complex diagrams.

Multilingual natural processing group head Salim Roukos said: "There is a certain level of indirection when people speak Japanese. English is more literal while Japanese is more subtle."

"With Japanese, there’s a certain politeness that adds to the complexity. And there are many different ways of expressing the same idea."

If the initiative becomes successful, then Watson is expected to inform the actions of another social robotics platform dubbed Pepper, reported ZDNet.

Watson is expected to give Pepper a larger knowledge base to work with and make the robot more applicable to specific industries.

The company expects that by combining both intelligent systems that Watson will be able to analyse more human cues because of Pepper’s expertise in the field, while Pepper is expected to become more intelligent with Watson by its side.

Watson is also expected to help, healthcare, insurance, education, banking industries across Japan.

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