IBM launches generative AI platform for businesses

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Watsonx will ensure data is secure and complies with regulatory and ethical requirements, company says

US company IBM has launched a new generative artificial intelligence platform that it says will help companies to use the most advanced capabilities of the technology in an easy and secure manner.

The platform, Watsonx, will help businesses manage with their own AI-supported data and use it at scale in a “more trustworthy and open environment, to drive business success”, New York-based IBM said during its annual Think conference.

It will also provide organisations with a toolkit to support the governance of AI and ensure data is always secure and complies with regulatory and ethical requirements, IBM said.

Watsonx, which will be made available in July, is an evolution of IBM Watson, a computer programme that can respond to questions asked in natural language, and is named after IBM founder Thomas Watson.

“There is a lot of interest in [generative AI] but people are unsure about what to do and how to do it,” said Rob Thomas, chief commercial officer of IBM.

“What I hear over and over again is they want something that’s trusted, scaleable and adaptable, and they want to avoid any of the pitfalls that could come with rolling out AI before a company’s really ready.”

AI in business is not new, but it has significantly gained momentum with the advent of generative AI. The technology — made popular by the OpenAI’s ChatGPT — can produce various kinds of data, including audio, code, images, text, simulations, 3D objects and videos.

While it takes cues from existing data, it is also capable of generating new and unexpected output, according to

The rise of ChatGPT has started a race with Google’s Bard, drawn interest from Twitter chief executive Elon Musk and prompted Apple to work on improving its digital assistant Siri.

Investors poured in more than $4.2 billion into generative AI start-ups in 2021 and 2022 through 215 deals after interest surged in 2019, recent data from CB Insights showed.

About 99 per cent of companies have reported that they have been able to cut their costs by using virtual agent technology, according to an IBM study.

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“There is something unique happening right now in AI. We see the world taking large language models [and] how it is being adapted by businesses that are looking beyond consumer use cases for how to improve their business, decrease costs and increase their revenue,” Mr Thomas said.

Large language models are trained on amounts of text data for natural language processing tasks. They support the processing and generation of natural language text for diverse tasks.

“This is the notion that we can train models based on unlabelled data and focus on use cases that are highly relevant in business,” Mr Thomas said.

People want [AI] that’s trusted, scaleable and adaptable, and they want to avoid any of the pitfalls that could come with rolling out AI before a company’s really ready

Rob Thomas, chief commercial officer of IBM

Watsonx was also developed with data governance in focus, in an era where regulators have become stricter with the way companies handle user data to protect their privacy.

“We have participated with governments around the world when they launch efforts to try to better understand the technology,” said Dario Gil, a senior vice president and director of research at IBM.

The rapidly advancing development of foundation models is also making AI for business “more powerful than ever”, said Arvind Krishna, chairman and chief executive of IBM.

“Foundation models make deploying AI significantly more scaleable, affordable and efficient … so that clients can be more than just users — they can become AI-advantaged.”



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