IBM Watson machine smarts hitch a ride with GM cars

IBM on Wednesday announced it was teaming with General Motors to put Watson artificial intelligence to work to personalize the driving experience for motorists.

OnStar software built into GM cars will be imbued with Watson smarts, enabling them to get to know their drivers, IBM chief executive Ginni Rometty told the WSJD Live technology conference in California.

"It learns from how you behave and what you do," Rometty said.

"It knows how you like your coffee and orders it for you; it reminds you to pick up your children."

The resulting OnStar Go system will be the auto industry's first "cognitive mobility platform," according to the companies.

Watson-enabled capabilities in OnStar Go will be available in more than two million GM vehicles by the end of next year.

Watson learns preferences of drivers, applies machine learning and then studies data to identify patterns in decisions and habits, according to IBM.

"It's a good example of where we are focused," Rometty said at WSJD Live.

"It's really Watson becoming the AI (artificial intelligence) platform for business."

A GM statement said the partnership will "deliver personalized content" to motorists through car dashboards and other channels via the OnStar system, GM's connectivity platform.

Century-old IBM has been adapting to modern trends by devoting resources to business services hosted in the internet cloud and enhancing offerings with Watson artificial intelligence.

A Watson music algorithm even helped create a pop song produced by Alex da Kid, who has worked with stars such as Nicki Minaj and Eminem.

Rometty boasted that the song jumped to the top spot on music streaming service Spotify on Wednesday.

Watson analysed musical tones, years of tweets, hit songs and more for the "man and machine together" project, she said.

"It is augmented intelligence, not artificial intelligence, and that has major implications," Rometty said.

Major technology firms including Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft are racing to infuse internet-linked devices with software smarts that help them think like people.

The effort is seen as an evolution in computing that allows users to interact with machines in natural conversation style, telling devices to tend to tasks such as ordering goods, checking traffic, making restaurant reservations or searching for information.

The AI component in these programs promises a world in which everyone can have a virtual aide that gets to know them better with each interaction.

IBM made headlines nearly 20 years ago with "Deep Blue" software that beat world chess champion Garry Kasparov at his own game, and more recently with Watson artificial intelligence that triumphed over top human players in a Jeopardy television game show.

IBM has put Watson to work making business systems and services smarter with data and customers. Thousands of people are expected to attend a World of Watson conference this week in Las Vegas. — AFP