IBM's answering Watson A.I. is best known for wheezing the human champions on the Jeopardy quiz show. Now IBM has reused its famous creation to help government agencies, healthcare organizations and academic institutions around the world cope with the massive flooding of questions citizens have about the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the first time that Watson has been used in a pandemic scenario.
A coronavirus-targeted version of the Watson A.I. was commissioned as a virtual agent in countries such as Arkansas, California, Georgia, New York and Texas in the United States, as well as in the Czech Republic, Greece, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom. It is able to answer locally relevant questions, ranging from coronavirus symptoms and test specifications to questions about social distance. These consistent and accurate answers can be made available to citizens through voice calls or text chat.
"In this difficult situation, people mostly ask about symptoms, tests, prevention, government regulations on social distance, schools, exams, [and the like]," said Dr. Roy Vergis, consultant at IBM Watson Health and digital health expert at the World Health Organization, against Digital Trends. "Our team is currently adding answers to psychological questions that a virtual nurse can use to help people deal with their fears and emotional problems, and to provide comfort during those times."
Watson Assistant for Citizens obtains data from a variety of external sources ̵
. The technology itself is impressive. But just as impressive is the speed at which IBM was able to bring it together. The first COVID-19 Watson Assistant was developed by IBM's Watson laboratories in Prague in the Czech Republic. A functional version of the chatbot was released less than a week later after being addressed as an option during a meeting with health ministers. In its first week, the Anezka chatbot supported more than 50,000 citizens and became the most used chatbot in the Czech Republic.
Custom versions of the same tool are now being introduced worldwide.