Print Save PDF

About 3 minutes

Yes, Bob Dylan and IBM Watson are sort of an item. Maybe more like the new-age odd couple. Even the most random of pairings would look at this one with a crocked eye.

Have you seen the latest IBM Watson commercial in which the great American folk singer and the super-powered cognitive computer come face to… well… box?

If not, check out the commercial below. Fair warning: Dylan is a bit odd in his interaction with Watson. But would you expect anything different from the enigmatic musician?

No one can predict Dylan’s moves or his reactions.

Just last February, the 74-year-old icon went off on a number of issues while being honored by the MusiCares charity. FORTHEWIN called the speech “fascinating, shocking, and incendiary.”

In an interview with SALON, rock critic Ira Robbins had this to say: “Dylan in his old age has been more unpredictable than he was as Dylan the young firebrand he was in my youth. Seeing him pop in surprising places is almost commonplace.”  

Dylan has lived many different lives.

As FORTHEWIN described so perfectly, Dylan has been “a one-time troubadour turned folk singer turned rock star turned recluse turned country singer turned revue musician turned born again Christian turned fading superstar turned man recovering from near-death experience turned wistful musician…”

That’s what makes the pairing of Watson and Dylan so brilliant. And maybe not so random after all.

Watson has the power to learn and eventually master any subject. When it comes to Dylan, Watson can get to know someone that no human being has been able to keep up with as of yet.

To this point, Watson is starting at the right place when it comes to solving the mystery that is Bob Dylan. It’s all about understanding the patterns in his song writing. Getting to know Dylan’s music is getting to him. His songs have, for generations, reflected the exact feelings and the events that he dealt with in his life.


In order to understand key trends within his music, five Watson services were applied to 320 songs from Dylan’s extensive catalog of music.

Watson’s cognitive blood-hound capabilities would be able to sniff out the patterns and learn more about the method to Dylan’s madness.

We still don’t know the full analysis Watson put together on Dylan. We do know that Watson has already understood that Dylan tends to sing about love fading and time passing.

But as FORTHEWIN pointed out, that analysis is too obvious. Maybe IBM is holding out on the good stuff until the next commercial comes out?

In reality, getting Watson “on the case” of Dylan probably had little to do with this duo coming together.

More like, Dylan wanted to do something different – which is another pattern of his behavior that Watson probably knows all too well by now. And Watson needs to keep improving its language.

Either way, this duo has some serious potential. Hopefully Watson can also add singing lessons to its to-do list before their next collaboration (and you know that’s coming soon).

IBM Watson Blogs


Written by IBM BP Network