IBM Watson, the artificial intelligence program is now conversant with Japanese, one of the most difficult languages in the world. Watson started to speak English and then picked up Spanish. Japanese is its third language. I wonder how many more languages this multi-lingual program picks up!
IBM Watson has tied up with a Japanese telecommunication and internet major, Softbank, the only partner in Japan. Japan has the third largest economy and bringing the language home is as good as it can get to a homerun.
The effort to teach Watson Japanese would have been an arduous one. Japanese has thousands of unique characters and the Japanese vocabulary boasts of an excess of a million words in its vocabulary. That’s not all, the same word can be used in multiple contexts and the words change depending on the gender and the person speaking it.
Softbank intends to use Watson to interact with its customers just like a human would. Remember that Watson is capable of feeling emotions, thinking emotionally and showing empathy. The company is working on a humanoid called Pepper that can read people’s emotions through facial expressions and voice tone. The creators also claim that Pepper can react like a human would, perform dance jigs and can tell you jokes as well. Pepper will be launched anytime soon in the Japanese market for around $2000 it is built with battery that can last for 12 hours.