IBM Watson: Learn How to Build a Recommendation Engine with Watson NLP

February 17, 2021

I came across this IBM free lesson: “Build a Recommendation Engine with Watson Natural Language Understanding.”

The preliminary set up, according to the write up, takes about an hour. Once that hour has been invested, the IBM Watson Knowledge Studio service will allow you to whip up your own recommendation engine. Plus, with Watson, the system will understand what humans write.

What are the preliminary steps? No big deal. Get an IBM cloud account, then navigate to the IBM Cloud console. Pick a pricing plan. Just choose “free” otherwise the lesson is free, not building the recommendation solution, you silly goose.) Then follow the steps for provisioning a Watson Knowledge Studio instance. Choose “free” again.

Next you have an opportunity to work through six additio0nal steps:

  1. Define entity types and subtypes
  2. Create “Relation Types”
  3. Collect documents that describe your domain language
  4. Annotate Documents
  5. Generate a Machine Learning Model
  6. Deploy model to Natural Language Understanding service.

The system seems to enjoy documents which are no larger than 2,000 words, preferable smaller. And the documents must be in ASCII, PDF, DOC, and HTML. The IBM information says Zip files are supported, but zip files can contain non text objects and long text documents. (That’s why people zip long text files, right?) The student can also upload documents in the UIMA CAS XMI format. If you are not familiar with this file format, you can get oriented by looking at documents like this.)

Once you have worked through steps one through five (obviously without making an error), you will need you Natural Language Understanding API Key which “is located at The Natural Language Understanding API Key and URL can be found by navigating to your Watson Natural Language Understanding instance page and looking in the Credentials section.”

No problem.

But what if the customer support system relies on voice? What if the customer is asked to upload a screenshot or a file containing data displayed when a fault occurs? What if the customer has paid for “premier” support which features a Zoom session? What if the person who wants to learn about Watson recommendation engine for a small trucking company?

Good questions. You may want to set aside some time to work through steps one through five which encapsulate some specialized college courses and hands-on experience with smart software, search, indexing, etc.

Perhaps hiring an IBM partner to set up the system and walk you through its quirks and features is a more practical solution.

On the other hand, check out Amazon’s off the shelf machine learning systems.

Stephen E Arnold, February 17, 2021


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