Watson Weekly: Hotel Flips on an IBM Robot

March 15, 2016

I think customer service at the hotels in which I have stayed is just wonderful. I recall a false fire alarm in Manhattan on a winter’s night, lice in a hotel in Clear Lake, Texas, and no heat after 9 pm in the modern Russian built hotel in February. People really cared about their guests.

Well, humans are not enough if the information in this write up is accurate. Navigate to “IBM Watson Powers Hilton Robot Concierge.” I learned:

A Hilton hotel in McLean, Virginia, has deployed a Watson-powered robot named Connie to help answer basic travel questions.

Wait, wait. No smart fire monitoring system, no automated disinfecting of rooms and bedding, and no smart HVAC?

Well, those are trivial problems.

The Hilton group, which I assume Paris monitors via social media, is

now being tested as an automated concierge at Hilton McLean in Virginia, can call upon various Watson APIs — Dialog, Speech to Text, Text to Speech, and Natural Language Classifier — and WayBlazer’s travel-specific knowledge to answer questions from Hilton guests about nearby attractions, dining options, and hotel services.

I know that using my smart phone is a real hassle. I definitely want to talk with Connie instead of relying on the Apple, Google, and Microsoft services.

Well, it turns out that

The job of concierge was rated “not computerizable” by a 2013 Oxford study titled “The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerization?” and given only a 21% chance of being automated in the next 20 years.

I think I was using my mobile devices to find restaurants, arrange for a car service, and looking up the local Apple store years ago. What do I know? Obviously my sense of history and how to use mobile devices is just what one expects from a person who lives in rural Kentucky.

Watson, when will Connie deal with bedbugs?

Stephen E Arnold, March 15, 2016


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