IBM's Watson wants to help you make a movie

Until now, creative minds have been human. But IBM's Watson, not content to use its computing power solely to cure cancer or cook you dinner, has added filmmaking to its repertoire.

The cognitive computer turned up at the Tribeca Film Festival to do what so many in the industry were doing there: networking with peers to get ideas for new projects. IBM used the festival to kick off its Storytellers With Watson competition, which calls on creative types to submit a one-minute video that details how they believe Watson can assist them with telling stories through film, web content, gaming, augmented reality, or virtual reality.

To generate ideas, IBM held an event in New York City last week to demo some of Watson's most creative work, like making a chilling trailer (below) for the AI horror movie Morgan and artistic contributions to an Alex Da Kid song.

Watson CTO Rob High said Watson can help filmmakers with things you might not expect. AI can be as adept as humans at turning inspiration into something creative. "At the end of the day, [AI] really wasn't taking [artists'] creativity away from them, but it was inspiring them to new forms of creation, and I think that we really see that a lot with anyone who gets an opportunity to experience these things," High said.

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There is push-back in the creative community, of course. But High says this can be overcome by exposing artists to cognitive computing solutions like Watson, particularly if they have human-like interfaces.

"For a cognitive system to really have that amplifying effect on our cognition, it needs to now begin to learn how to adapt to our form of communication, our form of interaction, and facilitate a kind of presence with us," according to High.

Anyone who has encountered AI in its current forms—voice assistants, self-driving cars, chatbots—knows it's a work in progress. But the fear of Skynet is real; just ask Stephen Hawking or Elon Musk. High is less concerned.

"The message there isn't so much a fear of the technology itself; it's a fear of what will people do with that technology." High said. He believes engineers have a responsibility to build technologies that benefit society, but acknowledged that, in general, people are averse to change.

"I think the thing that we as a society ought to be thinking about is how we exploit these technologies to amplify our own...cognitive strength, amplify our ability to get the right information at the right time so we make better decisions, to inspire us to better ideas," High argued.

It's those ideas that Watson is looking to exchange with artists at Tribeca. Storytellers With Watson is accepting applications until May 18.

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