IBM CEO Arvind Krishna speaks at a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on January 17, 2023.
Stefan Wermut | bloomberg | Getty Images
It’s been a long time since IBM actively promoted Watson. It was originally created to beat humans in “Danger!” Game show Watson was IBM’s start in the artificial intelligence field, but it never amounted to a profitable proposition.
About 15 months ago, IBM It sold its Watson Health unit for an undisclosed sum to private equity firm Francisco Partners.
Now, Watson has given way to WatsonX, and IBM is trying to ride the latest AI boom. IBM bills it as a corporate development studio for “training, tuning, and deploying” machine learning models. The platform includes a feature for AI-generated code, an AI governance toolkit, and a library of thousands of large-scale AI models trained on language, geospatial data, IT events, and code, according to a release.
The new offering is part of a larger strategic shift, as IBM seeks to take the lead in user-friendly platforms for companies looking to bring AI into their business models, in part because there is a massive shortage of human talent in the AI market.
IBM is teaming up with HuggingFace, a buzzing AI startup and open source platform that reached $2 billion last year.
In a question-and-answer session with reporters Monday, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna said companies can come up with a model they want to build and then let WatsonX run.
“We allow the organization to use their own code to adapt the model to how they want to run their manuals and code,” Krishna said. Then they can publish it themselves without any risk of their code being leaked.
Customers and collaborators to date include SAP, NASA, Wix, and PyTorch, and the platform will be available in the third quarter, IBM told CNBC. The company declined to share the cost of building the WatsonX or the amount of time it took. Last month, IBM’s quarterly profit beat analysts’ expectations, although revenue was lower than estimates.
Krishna said he expects these new AI tools to be more easily integrated into areas such as customer care, procurement, cybersecurity, supply chain elements, and IT operations. In particular, they will replace “more frequent back-office operations,” he said.
Krishna said, “We see that easily takes 30-50% of that volume of tasks and being able to do them much more efficiently or better than people can do them.” “This pot, we see it being incubated immediately starting this year, and fully fruiting over the next three to five years.”
He watches: An investment firm says AI will destroy jobs but ultimately create “massive amounts of wealth”.
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