IBM Watson is an Art Instructor…and I Love It

Almost three-quarters of Brazilians have never been inside a museum, according to a 2010 study from the Brazilian Institute of Economic Research. There are probably many reasons for this, but among them is the feeling that art can seem inaccessible unless you’ve studied it.

For the launch of IBM Watson in Brazil, Ogilvy Brazil created an interactive guide that lets people have conversations with work housed at the Pinacoteca de São Paulo Museum. “The Voice of Art” replaces pre-recorded audio guides with a Watson-powered program that gleans data from books, old newspapers, recent articles, biographies, interviews and the internet.

It took IBM six months to teach Watson how to make sense of all that content. Hosted on cloud platform IBM Bluemix, its AI capabilities were put to work answering spontaneous questions about art by renowned Brazilian creators like Cândido Portinari, Tarsila do Amaral and José Ferraz de Almeida Júnior.

Witness the magic below:

I recently got to experience this technology hands on. IBM is sponsoring “Art with Watson,” a special exhibit at the Cadillac House gallery, 330 Hudson Street, in New York City’s SOHO through 4.7.

The show includes portraits of pioneers of science, society, business and design — including Marie Curie, Nikola Tesla, Charles Darwin, Eleanor Roosevelt, Josephine Baker, Thomas J. Watson and Paul Rand — all created by modern artists with the help of IBM Watson technology. Watson provided the artists with unusual insights into each subject – from Nikola Tesla’s patents and journals, to Marie Curie’s correspondence with her children.

The exhibit also features a “cognitive photobooth” that puts Watson in the hands of individual attendees. Based on responses to a series of questions, Watson creates a personal portrait with the same APIs used to create the gallery portraits. Check mine out below and learn more about Art with Watson here.

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