IBM Watson is a brain and Microsoft Cortana is a personal assistant. That is the simple conclusion of Yesterdays Cortana vs Watson (sort of) at The Conference in Malmö. My biggest surprise was that Microsoft Cortana is 100% scripted. Watson is a cognitive platform that actually could complement Cortana’s great features as personal assistant.
Currently in Malmö in Sweden, the conference The Conference (ehh) is happening and I was very much looking forward to the session Artificial Intelligence in Services. Primarily to listen to Deborah Harrison from Microsoft, since my knowledge about Cortana is limited. To summarize, Cortana was a huge disappointment to me. After listening to Deborah I posted the below tweet that described my immediate feelings about Cortana (excuse the typo).
So, is Microsft Cortana only a scripted personal assistant with a slight touch of personality and tone analytics? #theconf
— Fredrik Stenbeck (@stenbeck) August 16, 2016
So, Cortana is:
- Only a personal assistant
- Personality and tone driven
As Deborah say already in the first minute of her talk (embedded at the end of the post) “Nothing is programmatic, we write it all”.
This leads me back to my recent post where I say that the future is about cognitive platforms and not about Bots (aka personal assistants).
And to continue with the embeds, the comparison between Cortana and Watson was by Felix Segerbrecht described in a true and funny (with a touch of sexism irony included) way.
— Felix Segebrecht (@FelixSegebrecht) August 16, 2016
Cortana is a Personal Assistant and Watson is a Brain.
The speakers were senior and knew the topic way better than most (both speeches embedded below). Deborah Harrison from Microsoft is one of the original architects behind Cortana as well as head of the team that creates all the content that Cortana is communicating (again, Cortana is all scripted). Her talk was focused on how Cortana communicates and how she interprets different situations. It seems that Cortana is more of a Siri for the enterprise (guess that Microsoft is still enterprise focused).
Maya Weinstein is design lead at IBM Watson in New York. Maya talked to the Robot Neo (the real robot, not an app), gave the standard examples of oncology (cancer treatment) and kids education (Element Path) etc. She gave the standard variety of examples of use cases for Watson from concierge services (Connie the Concierge at Hilton Hotels as an example) to dating apps and medical examples. Naturally, Jeopardy was mentioned as well.
To put it blunt, Cortana could be built with just three Watson APIs, if you add a few more Watson could do even more, but again, I hope that does not happen, they should not compete, rather compliment each other. Watson is a cognitive platform and not a product in that way. Watson could even be the cognitive parts (aka the Brain) of a very good personal assistant (Cortana). Cortana is the UI / UX and asks Watson for help with all the cognitive parts she is asked to help her users with.
Nevertheless, it is interesting times and this is a true paradigm shift in technology and business…..and it is starting now.
We are now entering the World of Cognitive!
Maya Weinstein’s talk at The Conference in Malmö 16th of August 2016
Deborah Harrison’s talk at The Conference in Malmö 16th of August 2016
Top image is from my daughters origami book