IBM recently acquired the chatbot company MyCyberTwin. Business Insider published this news in an article by Julie Bort on Monday of this week. I wrote about MyCyberTwin last year and did some digging into its Co-Founder and CEO, Liesl Capper. MyCyberTwin, which was subsequently renamed to Cognea, offered a build-your-own chatbot platform and hosting service in what is becoming an increasingly crowded space. It’s not surprising to see some consolidation occur through acquisitions. It’s interesting that IBM, which was apparently in the market for conversational virtual assistant technology to broaden Watson’s personality, chose Cognea over other platforms.
In the Business Insider article, Bort links to a blog post by Mike Rhodin, the senior VP of IBM’s Watson group. In the post, Rhodin emphasizes the importance of what he calls “conversational services.” The era is fast approaching, he writes, when we’ll be able to converse in an easy and meaningful way with the smart machines that provide us the services we rely upon. Rhodin goes on to describe a Relating Portfolio, which is part of the Watson Platform. The Relating Portfolio deals with technologies that help us to better relate to technology and information. The four components of the Watson Platform are: Perceiving, Reasoning, Relating, and Learning.
Rhodin frames the acquisition of Cognea / MyCyberTwin as another step along IBM’s path to becoming a leader in providing conversational services. Apparently the virtual assistant fits into the “Relating” category. Rhodin praises the Cognea virtual assistant technology as offering a depth of personality that people can relate to and that can in turn understand the user’s personality and preferences.
Both Cognea Co-Founders, Liesl Capper and John Zakos, will apparently be joining IBM as part of the acquisition. What will it be like when we can ask Watson to answer all of our most difficult questions, find meaning in vast stores of information, tell us the pros and cons of every position, and then engage us in simple human-like chitchat when we just want to relax or pass the time? It might not be too much longer before we find out.