Minnesota music icon Bob Dylan got tangled up in Big Blue and doled out his words sparingly while talking to an IBM computer in a television commercial that debuted during this week’s “Monday Night Football.”
Dylan speaks 21 words spread over five sentences during his back and forth with a far more chatty Watson in a story line that has Dylan suggesting to IBM’s artificial-intelligence computer “Watson” that they work on a song together.
“My analysis shows that your major themes are that time passes and love fades,” says laptop-based Watson in a computer-like intonation, to which Dylan responds, “That sounds about right.”
Watson embraces Dylan’s offer of coauthorship, boasts of an ability to carry a tune and uncorks a little “do-be-bop bebop-a-do, do-be do-be-do.”
To that, Dylan gets up from the couch, guitar in hand, and exits stage left, from whence he came when the commercial began.
Indeed, Watson truly did analyze Dylan’s work, said IBM spokeswoman Laurie Friedman. IBM data scientists applied Watson’s abilities “to 320 songs from Dylan’s portfolio in order to distill the trends Watson mentions in the spot,” Friedman said.
Watson used its capabilities of “personality analysis, tone analyzer, keyword extraction, that combined, helped to better understand data,” said Friedman, who added that Dylan’s “large catalog of music seemed ideally suited” for Watson to break down.
The 30-second spot, created by the global ad agency Ogilvy & Mather, is part of IBM’s “Era of Cognitive Business” campaign and includes two other commercials: one with “Jeopardy” quiz show king Ken Jennings and with a bright soon-to-be 7-year-old name Annabelle.
Dylan, whose counterculture lyrics captured 1960s tumult in America, has occasionally appeared in commercials. IBM now joins Chrysler, Victoria’s Secret, Apple, Cadillac and Pepsi on his endorsement roster.