IBM Donates Projects to the Cause of Responsible AI

July 3, 2020

The first question arising was, “Was the marketing of Watson responsible?” But why rain on a virtue signaling parade? It is almost the 4th of July in IBM land?

The LF AI Foundation was formed to support open source innovation in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning. Now IBM has climbed on board, we learn from “IBM Donates ‘Trusted AI’ Projects to Linux Foundation AI” at ZDNet. In a blog post, the company promises these donations will help ensure AI deployments are fair, secure, and trustworthy. They will also facilitate the creation of such software by the open source community under the direction of the Linux Foundation. Journalist Stephanie Codon writes:

“Specifically, IBM is contributing the AI Fairness 360 Toolkit, the Adversarial Robustness 360 Toolbox and the AI Explainability 360 Toolkit. The AI Fairness 360 Toolkit allows developers and data scientists to detect and mitigate unwanted bias in machine learning models and datasets. Along with other resources, it provides around 70 metrics to test for biases and 11 algorithms to mitigate bias in datasets and models. The Adversarial Robustness 360 Toolbox is an open-source library that helps researchers and developers defend deep neural networks from adversarial attacks. Meanwhile, the AI Explainability 360 Toolkit provides a set of algorithms, code, guides, tutorials, and demos to support the interpretability and explainability of machine learning models. The LFAI’s Technical Advisory Committee voted earlier this month to host and incubate the project, and IBM is currently working with them to formally move them under the foundation. IBM joined the LFAI last year and helped established its Trusted AI Committee, which is working towards defining and implementing principles of trust in AI deployments.”

Plus a foundation can deal with any political or legal issues, perhaps? The article notes that governments are taking a serious interest in AI governance. The EU released a white paper on the topic in February, and 14 countries and the EU are teaming up in the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI). It is about time governing bodies woke up to the effects unchecked AI can have on our communities. Now about the Watson Covid, the avocado festival, and the game show?

Cynthia Murrell, July 3, 2020

IBM: From the Avocado Festival to Insights about WFH. Sheer Genius!

June 23, 2020

I read “IBM Advises Tighter Cybersecurity in a New Remote Work Era.” Now this is a brilliant insight from the maker of mainframes, terminator of old engineers, and inventor of the outstanding Watson thing.

The write up states:

IBM Indonesia, a wholly owned subsidiary of American technology giant IBM, has called for companies to step up cybersecurity measures and to communicate digital safety to employees in light of the increase in cyber attacks during the “remote working era” of the pandemic. IBM Security, the multinational’s global cybersecurity division, reported an increase of more than 6,000 percent in coronavirus-related spam, including virus-themed malware, malicious domains and phishing scams in March-May.

I would count the number of marketing emails I have received from cyber security companies reporting about work from home security threats. The problem is that these started arriving in February 2020 and have continued to the present. I can reliably count to about 10,000 using the fingers and toes of my research team, an IBM matched dog or two, and most of the people who live in Prospect, Kentucky.

IBM is pushing into a frontier once reserved for desperate search engine optimization marketing firms. What’s impressive about this IBM announcement is that IBM think has been transferred to IBM Indonesia wizards.

Who said company culture could not be imprinted on individuals with a good education, a nuclear family background, and the ability to think independently?

Maybe Mr. Watson, the founder, not the truly astounding billion dollar baby who won a TV show game content when just a bean sprout.

One has to admire Big Blue. The avocado thing was slightly original. The dog matching. Classic Watson. This revelation about security. Well, just a player who arrives late to a party and reads the discarded invitations, “Dear Captain Obvious, the pleasure of your company is…”

Stephen E Arnold, June 23, 2020

IBM: No Facial Recognition? Why? Just Ask Watson

June 19, 2020

Racial tensions are at an all time high due to the recent unnecessary deaths of many black people at the hands of law enforcement. People of all think backgrounds are calling for an elimination of technology that amplifies racial profiling tactics, particularly facial recognition technology. IBM, along with other technology companies, want to support diversity and anti-violent police acts, so Live Mint shares how: “IBM Gets Out Of Facial Recognition Business, Oppose Use For Mass Surveillance.”

CEO of IBM Arvind Krishna stated that her company would no longer sell facial recognition or analysis software for racial profiling and mass surveillance. Mass surveillance is another major fear that people hold when it coms to facial technology. The potential for a huge spy network is possible and if government backs the bill it becomes scarier than Orwell’s imagination.

Facial recognition also perpetuates racial profiling, because the data used to train the AI is usually biased. Most of the data only contains information related to white individuals, because they are the ones designing the technology making their data more readily available. Due to the lack of diverse facial data, current facial recognition technology is prone to more errors with ethnic minorities.

Krishna is right to not offer the technology, especially when it could do more harm than good:

“ ‘IBM firmly opposes and will not condone uses of any technology, including facial recognition technology offered by other vendors, for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedoms, or any purpose which is not consistent with our values and Principles of Trust and Transparency,’he was quoted as saying in the letter.”

Facial recognition is off the radars for most law enforcement agencies right now, but that does not mean the technology should not be developed. The biggest solution to ensure accuracy is acquiring more diverse data.

One of my DarkCyber colleagues said at Shake Shack a day ago, “Maybe the IBM facial recognition technology does not work, and this was an easy way to get out of sticky ditch.”

Maybe? Watson, what do you think?

Whitney Grace, June 19, 2020

After Dog Matching, Watson Pivots to Technology Ops

June 13, 2020

Can an older dog learn new tricks after a visit to a Mexican avocado festival?

It has been a while since Watson debuted, so it is not surprising the AI supercomputer would need to be retrained in IT. It has a held a variety of other jobs from chef to medical professional, so going back to its roots will do wonders for Watson’s career. ARN explains that, “IBM Retains Watson AI For IT Operations?”

Watson’s retraining comes from IBM’s CEO Arvind Krishna, who wants to use the AI supercomputer to become a tool diagnosing and solving enterprise IT problems. Krishna particularly wants to focus on the new AIOps market that applies AI to IT operations. He also wants to focus on cloud edge computing and the growing importance of the 5G mobile infrastructure. The new Watson AIOps will:

“Watson AIOps, IBM’s name for the new iteration of Watson, is built on the latest release of Red Hat OpenShift, a container orchestration platform, so it can run across hybrid cloud environments.

It’s designed to evaluate the swarms of alerts generated by IT monitoring tools when an incident occurs, in order to identify and help fix the root cause of the problem…

IBM already has an AI-based IT operations management tool, Netcool Operations Insight, that automatically groups related events and provides context to help solve problems.”

IBM is not the only AIOps developer in the market, but despite the hefty competition Krishna believes Watson and his company offer tools they cannot find anywhere else.

With 5G and cloud edge computing, IBM could have a one up on a market still in development.

Whitney Grace, June 13, 2020

IBM Watson: To the Dogs?

June 11, 2020

Okay, a pandemic, a financial meltdown, increasing border tensions between China and India, protests in the US, and dog matching.

Wait! Dog matching.

DarkCyber noted a write up which struck the research team as weirdly out of tune in an already discordant symphony.

270B Partnered With Avocados From Mexico to Create an Innovative Digital Campaign for the 2019 Big Game, Winning a Prestigious Reggie Award for Digital Innovation” includes this factoid which would be humorous if it were not for the litany of crises which humanity faces:

One of the main draws of the site was the integration of IBM Watson technology into the Match Dog Com experience. This technology analyzed the user’s personality via their Tweets and then paired them with real adoptable dogs with complementary personality traits by breed. In the short length of the campaign, it generated 3.2 Billion social impressions. By partnering with national dog adoption organization,, the integration of information from their system provided information on real dogs that were ready to adopt.

IBM. Watson. Dog adoption. Amazing. By the way, what was the outcome of IBM Watson’s health care and Covid contribution? Right. A list. But dog matching? No problem. Again: Amazing.

Stephen E Arnold, June 11, 2020

Is AI Really Working?

June 10, 2020

I am tempted to point out that Microsoft’s artificially intelligent editorial system made an error. Confusing mixed race singers and doing some fancy dance steps behind the scenes reminds me that the company cannot update Windows 10 reliably.

But the more interesting AI (smart software) story is IBM’s announcement to the US Congress no less that it is not in the facial recognition business. Adios has arrived. “IBM Is Canceling Its Facial Recognition Programs” reports:

In a letter to Congress on Monday (June 9, 2020), IBM CEO Arvind Krishna said the company wants to work with lawmakers to advance justice and racial equity through police reform, educational opportunities and the responsible use of technology.

What the write up and similar ones did not mention is that IBM is the proud owner of IBM Watson. The question is, “Why is Watson, the billion dollar poster child of smart software, not able to deliver facial recognition that passes muster?”

There’s the virtue signaling value, of course. But the reliability of Watson and other IBM “smart” technology has to be viewed as apparently falling short of the corn hole target?

The reference to bias is a convenient way to get around accuracy issues, training costs, and inability of Watson-infused IBM solutions to deliver a nicely grilled burger when serving up fresh-from-the-can Spam.

Please, recall that IBM Watson wrote a cookbook. No, there wasn’t a recipe for “spam” in the tome. But there was tamarind which seems to beg for baloney.

Stephen E Arnold, June 10, 2020

IBM Watson Is Versatile: Covid Economic Predictions

June 4, 2020

Ah, Watson, so versatile! Now IBM’s famous AI platform, in conjunction with marketing firm Wunderman Thompson, is helping communities cope with the repercussions of the covid-19 pandemic. SearchEnterpriseAI reports on “Using Data And IBM AI to Make Coronavirus Economic Predictions.” Writer Mark Labbe tells us about the Risk, Readiness, and Recovery map:

“The platform, released May 21, uses Wunderman Thompson’s data, as well as machine learning technology from IBM Watson, to predict state and local government COVID-19 preparedness and estimated economic recovery timetables for businesses and governments. … A global marketing subsidiary of British multinational communications firm WPP plc, Wunderman Thompson has collected thousands of data elements on 270 million people in the U.S, including transaction, demographic and health data. That data, which is anonymized, led the company to understand the potential economic impact of the coronavirus quickly.”

The firm has its own technology division, which developed the platform with Watson’s machine learning tech. The two companies had begun working together about this time last year. Labbe describes this latest collaboration:

“The platform, as the name suggests, focuses on three areas:

1. Risk. Health conditions, COVID-19 and census.

2. Readiness. Health support within communities.

3. Recovery. The impact of COVID-19 on the economy.

“Risk identifies how much a given local government organization or zip code area in the U.S. is at risk from COVID-19. Readiness, meanwhile, identifies how prepared an area is by looking at its hospital and intensive care unit availability, and Recovery identifies how economically affected local areas are, how fast they might recover and when they might return to normal.”

A free version of the platform is available, while the full product is being sold to governments and enterprises. The key selling point is the localized predictions which, we’re told, will vary widely even from one county to the next. Was Watson consulted to determine the economic impact of IBM’s recent round of terminations?

Cynthia Murrell, June 4, 2020

IBM: Watson, What Is Happening?

May 22, 2020

I like to think about the wisdom of IBM Watson. A large company developed smart software able to beat mere humans in a TV game show. Amazing, but I asked myself after Watson “won” jeopardy, “What about that post production process?”

Now IBM’s actual production process is visible. A new Big Blue dog Arvind Krishna is controlling the pack of huskies. Such is the success of the racing sled in a time of Covid that IBM will not cut its five percent dividend, according to the “real news” service Fox Business.

IBM hedged by declining to make a forecast for 2020. IBM’s future is bright, but apparently it is not that bright.

IBM to Cut Thousands of Jobs As Coronavirus Plays Out” reveals that some surplus employees will be reduced in force. Fox reported:

“IBM’s work in a highly competitive marketplace requires flexibility to constantly remix to high-value skills, and our workforce decisions are made in the long-term interests of our business.  Recognizing the unique current conditions, IBM is offering subsidized medical coverage to all affected U.S. employees through June 2021” a company spokesman said in a statement.

If one is not terminated, what’s the people process at IBM look like? Think bare knuckles boxing maybe? “IBM Says It’s Giving Employees the Opportunity to Compete for Positions” explains:

“As part of IBM’s regular assessment of how we work, we are simplifying how we operate to position our business for high value growth opportunities and better meet client demand,” a spokesperson said. “Employees will have the opportunity to re-skill and compete for positions where roles are available.”

Unlike some Silicon Valley outfits, having employees work from home is the first step (a generally gentle one) in eliminating surplus. The office space will go and then the less productive work from homers will be invited to a Zoom meeting for a “Find Your Future” elsewhere session.

Big Blue is more direct, more gladiatorial: Get terminated or get into the octagon. Fight Ralph, the slightly overweight and near sighted OmniFind expert for a paycheck.

Wouldn’t it be more interesting to have Watson battle Facebook, Google, and Microsoft in a smart software battle to prove which company is Number One?

Watson, what do you think of my suggestion? IBM’s approach to returning to glory is interesting, but it seems old fashioned: Layoffs and internal competition. Very Darwin.

Watson, you know about Darwin, right?

Stephen E Arnold, May 22, 2020

IBM Watson: Now Thinking Critically

May 21, 2020

The Watson AI Lab with a team from Harvard and MIT developed a new AI dubbed Clevrer that reasons and recognizes casual relationships. Venture Beat shares the details in the article, “MIT Researchers Release Clevrer To Advance Visual Reasoning And Neurosymbolic AI.”

Clevrer is built on the data set Clevr developed in 2016 by Stanford and Facebook AI Research. It was designed to analyze visual reasoning abilities of neural networks and Neuro-Symbolic Concept Learner was added in 2019. The data set includes a 20,000 synthetic videos of colliding objects paired with over 30,000 natural language questions and answers about objects in the videos. The data set is important about for building smarter AI:

“MIT-IBM Watson Lab director David Cox told VentureBeat in an interview that he believes the data set can make progress toward creating hybrid AI that combines neural networks and symbolic AI. IBM Research will apply the approach to IT infrastructure management and industrial settings like factories and construction sites, Cox said.

‘I think this is actually going to be important for pretty much every kind of application,’ Cox said. ‘The very simple world that we’re seeing are these balls moving around is really the first step on the journey to look at the world, understand that world, be able to make plans about how to make things happen in that world. So we think that’s probably going to be across many domains, and indeed vision and robotics are great places to start.”

Clevrer consists of two AI that are complimentary. It will build better and reliable models that will require less data to “train” them and they will also be more energy efficient.

AI are being designed to handle huge data streams, but it is better if they are designed to solve problems. AI systems needs to have a logical components, be able to reconfigure themselves, act on environment, interpret information, and define their own mental models. AI systems need to be smarter than a calculator and better than the modern enterprise system.

Wasn’t there an IBM patent for a “Clever” system? Yes, gentle reader, there was. Hence, clevrer. Clever, right?

Whitney Grace, May 21, 2020

IBM: Rapprochement, Pragmatism, Survival?

May 18, 2020

Just a tiny decision. Probably nothing. The thwarted time sharing warp drive machine is sputtering. Gone are the days of IBM mainframes and those pesky plug compatible pretenders. Online meant IBM, by golly.

Then IBM drifted from the data centers, wandered in the PC wilderness, and ended on the shores of Lake Craziness in the Adirondacks chanting the mantra “Watson, Watson, Watson, come here I want you.”

IBM has a new president able to make decisions different from the previous chiefette. Gone are the daily stock buybacks. Terminations of those over 55 have slowed. Ads, although still a little wacky, no longer explain that IBM is a winner (a game show winner, that is).

The future of the company may be rapprochement. With what company? Microsoft, the devil in the OS/2s? Google? The company IBM understands according to a letter an IBM executive wrote me years ago. Huawei? Oracle, the mere database company which bought Sun Micro? No. No. No.

The “let’s be friends” is explained in “Red Hat and AWS launch OpenShift, a Joint Kubernetes Service.” DarkCyber noted:

According to Red Hat vice president of Hosted Platforms Sathish Balakrishnan, the fully managed service will help IT organizations to more quickly build and deploy applications in AWS on Red Hat’s enterprise Kubernetes platform, using the same tools and APIs. In addition, developers will be able to build containerized applications that integrate natively with the more than 170+ integrated AWS cloud-native services.

Yes, small news.

However, maybe Big Blue and the cagey orange smile may extend their relationship. IBM’s cloud and IBM itself might benefit from becoming BFFs with the FAABG least likely to kick Big Blue off the revenue bus.

The Bezos bulldozer chugs along, and even IBM can run fast enough to jump on the somewhat indifferent money scraper.

Stephen E Arnold, May 18, 2020

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