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IBM's Early Lead in AI, Losing its Way, and CEO Arvind Krishna's Vision for the Future

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IBM's CEO Arvind Krishna Discusses AI Comeback, Regulation, and the Future

IBM is making a strong push for an AI comeback, with CEO Arvind Krishna leading the charge. The company has reintroduced the Watson brand as part of its strategy to monetize AI products for businesses. WatsonX, a development studio for training and deploying machine learning models, has already generated significant bookings in the third quarter, and Krishna believes it has the potential to reach a billion dollars in bookings per year. However, IBM faces stiff competition from the likes of Microsoft, Google, and Amazon in the enterprise AI space. The company has also faced criticism for its slow monetization of AI and its focus on large, monolithic solutions. Krishna acknowledges these critiques, admitting that IBM was slow to make Watson's capabilities consumable and went after big answers that the world was not yet ready for. However, the company has pivoted and launched Watson X to enable experimentation and customization of AI models. Krishna believes that AI, with its ability to address the data explosion and the need for increased productivity, is the technology best suited to tackle the challenges faced by various industries and sectors. Regarding AI regulation, Krishna supports the recent executive order signed by President Biden. He believes that regulation is necessary to ensure accountability and safety in AI models. While he has no concerns about sharing test results with the government, he emphasizes the importance of confidentiality and competition, advocating for regulations based on use cases rather than the technology itself. Krishna acknowledges the ongoing debate around AI regulation, with some arguing that too much regulation stifles innovation while others emphasize the need for oversight to address bias and harms. He believes in allowing open innovation and holding model developers accountable for their creations. Krishna suggests regulating use cases based on risk rather than the technology or algorithms, allowing for innovation to flourish while ensuring responsible deployment in sensitive areas such as medicine and self-driving cars. IBM's WatsonX development studio sets itself apart by offering flexibility in deployment options. Unlike many competitors, IBM does not constrain clients to deploy AI models solely in their public cloud environment. Instead, they allow deployment on sovereign territories or private infrastructures, catering to the specific needs and preferences of their clients. IBM also believes in a hybrid model environment, enabling the use of models from open source, other companies, and IBM itself, providing clients with a range of options based on different attributes. WatsonX has shown promising growth, with low hundreds of millions of dollars in bookings in the third quarter. IBM has seen interest in various sectors, including financial, telecom, retail, and manufacturing. Different use cases have emerged, such as answering phone calls, training employees, streamlining bureaucracy, and enhancing finance teams. These diverse applications demonstrate the potential of AI across industries. Addressing the criticism that IBM has fallen behind in the AI race, Krishna points to the company's past successes with Deep Blue and Watson's victory on Jeopardy. However, he acknowledges that IBM was slow to monetize and make Watson's capabilities consumable. The company has learned from this and pivoted to a more iterative and customizable approach with WatsonX. Krishna believes that the most overhyped aspect of AI is the existential risk of it taking over humanity, calling it fantastical. On the other hand, he believes that the most underhyped aspect is the productivity AI can bring to bureaucratic tasks within enterprises and governments. In conclusion, IBM is making a determined effort to regain its position in the AI landscape under the leadership of CEO Arvind Krishna. The company aims to monetize AI products through the reintroduction of the Watson brand and the launch of WatsonX. Krishna emphasizes the need for responsible regulation, open innovation, and accountability in the AI space. IBM's focus on flexibility, hybrid models, and customization sets it apart from competitors. The company is optimistic about the growth of WatsonX and the potential of AI to enhance productivity in various sectors.

IBM's AI Comeback: A Game Changer for New Businesses?

IBM's CEO Arvind Krishna is spearheading a bold AI comeback, breathing new life into the Watson brand. This move could significantly impact new business formations, particularly those seeking to leverage AI technology.

WatsonX: A Potential Billion-Dollar Venture

The launch of WatsonX, a development studio for training and deploying machine learning models, signals a shift in IBM's strategy. Krishna's vision of WatsonX reaching a billion dollars in bookings per year could be a game-changer for startups seeking AI solutions. However, IBM's slow monetization of AI and stiff competition from tech giants like Microsoft, Google, and Amazon will be a challenge.
Regulating AI: A Balancing Act
Krishna's support for AI regulation, as evidenced by his endorsement of President Biden's recent executive order, could influence how new businesses approach AI. Krishna's belief in regulations based on use cases rather than the technology itself could foster innovation while ensuring responsible AI deployment. This approach could potentially shape the regulatory landscape for AI, impacting startups in sectors like medicine and self-driving cars.

Flexible Deployment and Hybrid Models: A Competitive Edge

IBM's flexibility in AI model deployment and its belief in a hybrid model environment could be a boon for new businesses. This approach, allowing deployment on sovereign territories or private infrastructures and the use of models from various sources, offers startups a range of options to suit their specific needs.
WatsonX's Growth and Diverse Applications
WatsonX's promising growth and diverse applications across sectors like finance, telecom, retail, and manufacturing could be a beacon for startups seeking to harness AI's potential. Krishna's belief in AI's productivity enhancement, especially in bureaucratic tasks, could be a compelling reason for new businesses to adopt AI. In the face of criticism, IBM's pivot towards a more iterative and customizable approach with WatsonX could be a lesson for new businesses in adaptability and resilience. With this determined effort, IBM's AI comeback could significantly shape the AI landscape, influencing new business formations and their approach to AI.
Story First Published at: https://www.cnbc.com/2023/12/07/ibm-ceo-arvind-krishna-cnbc-interview.html
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