IBM unveils new watsonx, AI and data platform

The logo for IBM is displayed on a screen on the floor of the NYSE in New York
The logo for IBM is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., June 27, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid//File Photo

OAKLAND, California, May 9 (Reuters) - International Business Machines Corp (IBM.N) on Tuesday launched watsonx, a new artificial intelligence and data platform to help companies integrate AI in their business.

The new AI platform launch comes over a decade after IBM's software called Watson got attention for winning the game show Jeopardy. IBM at the time said Watson could “learn” and process human language. But Watson's high cost at the time made it a challenge for companies to use, according to Reuters reporting.

Fast forward a decade, chatbot ChatGPT's overnight success is making AI adoption at companies a focus, and IBM is looking to grab new business. This time, the lower cost of implementing the large language AI models means the chances of success are high, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna told Reuters ahead of the company's annual Think conference.

"When something becomes 100 times cheaper, it really sets up an attraction that's very, very different," said Krishna. "The first barrier to create the model is high, but once you've done that, to adapt that model for a hundred or a thousand different tasks is very easy and can be done by a non-expert."

Krishna said AI could reduce certain back office jobs at IBM in the coming years. "That doesn't mean the total employment decreases," he said about some media reports talking about IBM pausing hiring for thousands of jobs that AI could replace.

"That gives the ability to plow a lot more investment into value-creating activities...We hired more people than were let go because we're hiring into areas where there is a lot more demand from our clients."

He added that IBM was also embracing a more open ecosystem and partnering with open-source AI software development hub Hugging Face and others.

IBM said companies can use the watsonx platform to train and deploy AI models, automatically generate code using natural language and use various large language models built for different purposes such as chemical creation or climate change modeling.

Reporting By Jane Lanhee Lee; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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Thomson Reuters

Reports on global trends in computing from covering semiconductors and tools to manufacture them to quantum computing. Has 27 years of experience reporting from South Korea, China, and the U.S. and previously worked at the Asian Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones Newswires and Reuters TV. In her free time, she studies math and physics with the goal of grasping quantum physics.