IBM Power10 Rah Rah: One Concerning Statement

September 12, 2022

IBM is back in the marketing game. Everyone wants a Power10 computer in a mobile phone or a MacBook Air form factor. Am I right! Yes.

The article “IBM Power10 Shreds Ice Lake Xeons for Transaction Processing.” This is a big iron made less big. The article points out use cases for those AIX users. Plus there are references to notable big iron outfits like Oakridge and Lawrence Livermore Labs, both really common computing environments like those in the local Coca-Cola distributor’s office or the regional garbage outfit’s offices in three cities.

The charts are phenomenal. Here’s an example. Look at how the blue bar is lower than the gray bar. And the power savings and the thermal data? You know what air conditioners are for as well as those nifty Caterpillar generators in the parking lot are for, don’t you?


Very encouraging.


I noticed one sentence which gave me pause; to wit:

IBM will, of course, make some competitive wins, mostly in emerging markets (and in some cases as Inspur sells iron in China), and it will also win some deals for new kinds of workloads like MongoDB, EnterpriseDB, or Redis.

With the export restrictions imposed by the US on China, will the Power10 find its way to the Middle Kingdom? The use cases for Power10 at US national laboratories may exist in a country wrestling with some real estate issues. Can the Power10 help with the land and construction challenges? What about Chinese academics-only, please research outfits?

In the midst of a PR type content marketing article, I found the reference to China interesting. Will anyone else?

Stephen E Arnold, September 12, 2022

The Home of Dinobabies Knows How to Eliminate AI Bias

August 26, 2022

It is common knowledge in tech and the news media that AI training datasets are flawed. These datasets are unfortunately prone to teaching AI how to be “racist” and “sexist.” AI are computer programs, so they are not intentionally biased. The datasets that teach them how to work are flawed, because they contain incorrect information about women and dark-skinned people. The solution is to build new datasets, but it is difficult to find hoards of large, unpolluted information. MIT News explains there is a possible solution in the article: “A Technique To Improve Both Fairness And Accuracy In Artificial Intelligence.”

Researchers already know that AI contain mistakes so they use selective regressions to estimate the confidence level for predictions. If the predictions are too low, then the AI rejects them. MIT researchers and MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab discovered what we already know: women and ethnic minorities are not accurately represented in the data even with selective regression. The MIT researchers designed two algorithms to fix the bias:

“One algorithm guarantees that the features the model uses to make predictions contain all information about the sensitive attributes in the dataset, such as race and sex, that is relevant to the target variable of interest. Sensitive attributes are features that may not be used for decisions, often due to laws or organizational policies. The second algorithm employs a calibration technique to ensure the model makes the same prediction for an input, regardless of whether any sensitive attributes are added to that input.”

The algorithms worked to reduce disparities in test cases.

It is too bad that datasets are biased, because it does not paint an accurate representation of people and researchers need to fix the disparities. It is even more unfortunate locating clean datasets and that the Internet cannot be used, because of all the junk created by trolls.

Whitney Grace, August 26, 2022

IBM Smart Software and Technology: Will There Be a Double Fault?

July 9, 2022

It has been a few years since Wimbledon started using AI to engage fans and the media. The longstanding partnership between IBM and the venerable All England Lawn Tennis Club captured the Best Fan Engagement by a Brand trophy at the 2022 Sports Technology Awards. The “IBM Power Index with Watson,” “IBM Match Insights with Watson,” and “Personalized Recommendations and Highlights Reels” were their winners. Maybe Watson has finally found its niche. We learn what changes are in store this season in the company’s press release, “IBM Reveals New AI and Cloud Powered Fan Experiences for Wimbledon 2022.” The write-up specifies:

“New features for 2022 include:

* ‘Win Factors’ brings enhanced explainability to ‘Match Insights’: Building on the existing Match Insights feature of the Wimbledon app and, IBM is providing an additional level of explainability into what factors are being analyzed by the AI system to determine match insights and predictions. Win Factors will provide fans with an increased understanding of the elements affecting player performance, such as the IBM Power Index, court surface, ATP/WTA rankings, head-to-head, ratio of games won, net of sets won, recent performance, yearly success, and media punditry.

* ‘Have Your Say’ with a new interactive fan predictions feature: For the first time, users can register their own predictions for match outcomes on the Wimbledon app and, through the Have Your Say feature. They can then compare their prediction with the aggregated predictions of other fans and the AI-powered Likelihood to Win predictions generated by IBM.”

The “digital fan experiences” use a combination of on-premises and cloud systems. Developers have trained the machine-learning models on data from prior matches using Watson Studio and Watson Discovery. See the press release for more specifics on each feature.

Cynthia Murrell, July 9, 2022

IBM Seeks to Avoid Groundhog Day in AI/ML

July 8, 2022

How do you deliver the killer AI/ML system? Via news releases and PR perhaps?

The Next Web claims that, “IBM’s Human-Centered Approach Is The Only Big Tech Blueprint AI Startups Should Follow.” Author Tristan Greene reminds readers that IBM’s initials stand for International Business Machines and he met the company’s first chief AI officer Seth Dobrin. Dobrin said IBM would never focus on consumer AI, i.e. virtual assistants and selfie apps.

Dobrin also stated that IBM’s goal is to create AI models that improve human life and provide value for its clients and partners. It is apparently not hard to do if you care about how individuals will be affected by monetized models. He compared these models to toys:

“During a discussion with the Financial Times’ Tim Bradshaw during the conference, Dobrin used the example of large-parameter models such as GPT-3 and DALL-E 2 as a way to describe IBM’s approach.

He described those models as “toys,” and for good reason: they’re fun to play with, but they’re ultimately not very useful. They’re prone to unpredictability in the form of nonsense, hate speech, and the potential to output private personal information. This makes them dangerous to deploy outside of laboratories.

However, Dobrin told Bradshaw and the audience that IBM was also working on a similar system. He referred to these agents as “foundational models,” meaning they can be used for multiple applications once developed and trained.”

IBM takes a human approach to its projects. Instead of feeding its AI datasets that could contain offensive information, IBM checks the data first before experimenting. That way the AI is already compliance ready and there will not be any bugs to work out later (at least the prejudice type). IBM is also focused on outcomes, not speculation, which is not how the tech giants work.

IBM wants to withstand an AI winter that could come after the fancy lights, parlor tricks, and flashy PR campaigns are in the past. Human-centered AI technologies, as Dobrin believes, will last longer and provide better services. IBM is also dedicated to sustainability.

IBM is green and wants to create better products and services before launch? It sounds better than most, but can they deliver?

Whitney Grace, July 8, 2022

Ahoy, Captain Watson, Will We Make It This Time, Arrrghh

June 10, 2022

Not one to let repeated failures get in its way, marine research non-profit ProMare has once again sent its Mayflower Autonomous Ship across the open ocean with Watson at the helm. The Register reports, “IBM-Powered Mayflower Robo-Ship Once Again Tries to Cross Atlantic.” When the project first embarked in 2020, we wondered whether it might fall victim to hackers. As it turns out, that attempt was foiled by a more basic issue—a mechanical fault with its generator. As advanced as it is, Watson cannot yet wield a physical wrench. A minor electrical glitch halted the more recent crossing attempt, launched this past April 28, two weeks in. That issue was quickly fixed and the ship set on its way once again. Reporter Katyanna Quach writes:

“‘As of 0900 BST May 20, MAS was back underway with its transatlantic crossing,’ the IBM spokesperson said. It is aiming to complete the remaining 2,225-mile voyage in 16 days. Now, nearly a week into resuming its journey, the ship has made it to its furthest distance yet, a little over halfway to America.”

Well, that was a couple weeks ago. As of this writing, the MAS has been diverted to Nova Scotia to address yet another electrical issue. This team is nothing if not persistent. Quach goes on to give us a few details about the tech involved:

“The Mayflower’s AI software runs on four computers containing Intel processors, six nVidia Jetson AGX Xavier GPUs, two nVidia Jetson Xavier NX boards, and a few other chips. Live camera footage streaming from a webcam onboard the ship is back up online for viewers to follow. ‘We’ve made lots of improvements – the computer vision system has been significantly improved through at-sea testing, and similarly the data fusion algorithms are functioning better and better with every deployment and have greatly improved over the course of the past year,’ Brett Phaneuf, co-director of the Mayflower project … told The Register in a statement. ‘We’ve also improved many mechanical systems, particularly the air intake and exhaust for the generator on the hybrid drive line – and we’ve reduced power consumption significantly as well, over the past year, through applied research, testing and trials, and we’ve made the boat more robust in general.’”

Not quite robust enough, it seems. Not yet. It looks like ProMare is determined to press Watson past its limits. Will the persistent little ship finally make it to its destination? Curious readers can follow MAS’ progress here.

Cynthia Murrell, June 10, 2022

Can Kyndryl Drill IBM and Strike Gold? But Who Drilled Whom?

June 6, 2022

I found it amusing that Big Blue found itself on the wrong side of what I call a deal poaching allegation. The details of the BMC and IBM services for AT&T is interesting. However, a knock on effect of that $1.6 billion dollar settlement has put the estimable IBM spin out Kyndryl in the spotlight. I thought the name “Kyndryl” was one of those pharma products tailored to old people who watched cable news talking heads. Was I wrong? Absolutely. Kyndryl is IBM’s managed services business. The idea for that was that big companies did not want to deal with full time equivalents who kept an organization’s servers chugging along. Let IBM do it was a good business until the sharpies at Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, among others, figured out how to package the cloud to chew into Big Blue’s revenues.

Gulp down a Wal-DRYL and check out “Kyndryl Shares Swoon on Fear It Faces Huge Liability in Lawsuit Against IBM.” The article explains:

Spun out of IBM (ticker: IBM) last year, Kyndryl (KD) is basically IBM’s old managed IT services business. It is a gigantic company with around $18 billion in sales and a workforce of about 90,000 people. But Kyndryl is shrinking at the top line, pays no dividend, and is having trouble finding a constituency among investors. The stock is down more than 50% since the spinoff was completed in November. And now the two companies find themselves on the opposite sides of a legal mess that poses considerable risks for Kyndryl.

What I find interesting is that the incident strikes me as one part of IBM is fighting another part of IBM. Where does the customer fit into this crashing of brilliantly managed entities? I know. Let’s ask Watson. No, let’s check out M-Dryl. Seems less financially risky.

Stephen E Arnold, June 6, 2022

IBM: Fueling the Quantum Computing PR Push

May 25, 2022

I wonder if your mom wants a quantum computer in her tablet. Who wants a quantum computer? Many people, and IBM wants to deliver. The issue is that the fungible quantum computer is a bit of a specialty item. IBM wants to be perceived as the Big Dog in the sector.

IBM Plans to Deliver 4 000+ Qubit System” explains that IBM will produce a quantum computing Big Blue Great Dane of a system. (Did you know that there are more than a dozen dogs which have blue coats? In addiiton to the Great Dane, there is the blue Chihuahua and the blue Lacy.) The important word to me is “plans.” The 4,000 qubit giant is not ready for the quantum computer market yet. But it is coming. Soon. And the road map will be updated in 2023.

The write up says:

IBM has announced the expansion of its roadmap for achieving large-scale, practical quantum computing. This roadmap details plans for new modular architectures and networking that will allow IBM quantum systems to have larger qubit-counts – up to hundreds of thousands of qubits.

Note that the numerical leap is from 4,000 qubits to hundreds of thousands of qubits.

And IBM’s innovations are not Google-style pronouncements of quantum supremacy. IBM, according to the article:

will leverage three pillars: robust and scalable quantum hardware; cutting-edge quantum software to orchestrate and enable accessible and powerful quantum programs; and a broad global ecosystem of quantum-ready organizations and communities.

In addition, IBM will roll out IBM Condor, not a Big Blue dog but a condor, which is a Big Bird. I noted this statement:

On the hardware front, IBM intends to introduce IBM Condor, the world’s first universal quantum processor with over 1 000 qubits.

The Big Blue Great Dane and the Big Bird are part of the road map. Is IBM Watson available to answer a question about this forward leaning quantum computing PR announcement about “plans”?

Stephen E Arnold, May 25, 2022

IBM: Still Buzzwording after All These Years

April 8, 2022

I read “IBM Unveils Industry’s First Quantum-Safe System, IBM z16.” I have no doubt the machine is capable and certainly better than the IBM dog to which I had access in 1962. I loved standing in line to sign up for a card punch machine. I loved standing in line to drop off my pathetic card deck. I loved getting the green bar paper and the deck back days later. What’s not to like? Today’s system is super duper. The write explains that the “new” mainframe can prevent a quantum issue from a computer yet to be deployed as a functional encryption/decryption equipped quantum computer. That’s a pretty good wild and crazy idea: Protect against a future thing not yet in existence. Wow!

However the write up uses more buzzwords than I have seen in the patents filed by an outfit called Kyndi (if you don’t know, this is another enterprise search company with jargonized patent documents). Here’s a short list of some of the gems used to describe a mainframe. Keep in mind this is a mainframe, not a zippy Apple M chip powered gizmo. A mainframe. The words:

Quantum safe system. (Frankly I am not sure what a quantum computer will actually do once the cost, applications, cooling, etc. are figured out.)

Inference requests. (Years ago there was a Web search system called Inference. Today I am not exactly sure what an inference request is. Maybe a query requiring fancy predictive math? The IBM approach is to deliver latency optimized inferencing. I think this means latency reduced inference but maybe not. The number presented without any supporting data is 300 billion inference requests per day. Is this eight hours or 24 hours?)

Integrated on chip AI accelerator. (And what’s AI mean? Probably machine learning but the on chip AI is snappy. How big is this “artificial intelligence” conceptual umbrella? I assume IBM used the word “all” in a previous draft of this buzzwordy phrase.)

Near future threats. (After SolarWinds the threats are here and now and will persist because the attack surface is like the paved parking lots in Paramus, New Jersey. What’s near future? Like tomorrow?)

Cyber resiliency posture. (My hunch is that this means that executives at Microsoft struggling with Azure and Exchange security will sit up straight after 1,000 bad actors working for a nation state use off the shelf exploits to attack those Softies’ systems and software.)

CEX8S. (Is the acronym pronounced like the word for biological actions related to progeny creation or like the breakfast cereal one ate for breakfast? Has the acronym been influenced by Tesla’s cutesy auto labels: Model S, Model 3, and Model X, the one with long lasting performance?)

Quantum-safe cryptographic technology. (At least Kyndi spelled “quantum” this way: Quantom. IBM couldn’t be bothered to nose into Kyndi’s spelling innovation. IBM’s invocation approach may relate to the firm’s experiments with quantum computing which have allegedly ripped the crown of quantum supremacy from the scaled head of Googzilla.)

Wow. This is a mainframe, and it works pretty much like its predecessors. Why not emphasize compatibility, methods of exporting data to lesser systems, and exactly what legacy software will run on the beastie?

Not zippy enough? Certainly not for the IBM marketers. Quantum AI inferencing CEX8S are much zippier. Let’s ask the part of Watson that hasn’t been sold? Here’s the answer I think Watson will output:

IBM deliberately misclassified mainframe sales to enrich execs, lawsuit claims

That seems like a Watson like answer to me.

Stephen E Arnold, April 8, 2022

IBM: Big Blue May Have Some Digital Re-Engineering to Explain

March 4, 2022

Yo, I am a dinobaby, and I am proud of that fact. You want proof. I know what a rotary dial phone is. I know how to use a facsimile machine. Heck, I can still crank out a mimeograph document. I even know how to get a drink from a terracotta jar in rural Brazil. (Love those chemicals and that wonky purple-blue color which reminds me of Big Blue.)

Several years ago, I read a blog by some IBM people which documented the harvesting of old workers. That blog disappeared, of course. It named managers, disclosed snippets of email, and did a fine job to making clear that oldsters had one function. The idea was that before finding their future elsewhere, the old employees would train their replacements. This is a variation on copying data from a DASD to a zippy new storage device, just with humanoids, not silicon.

I have been following the word dinobaby. I entered it into my log of jazzy new terms coined by millennials and GenXers. I put dinobaby between grosso modo memetic learning and vibe shift. This is not alphabetical I know, but I like the rhythm of the words when offered in a dinner conversation about technology.

The word appeared in  “IBM Executives Planned to Rid the Company of Older, Dinobaby Employees and Replace Them with Millennials, Lawsuit Alleges.” I thought the lawsuit was an interesting opportunity for legal eagles to generate some money.

Then I read the February 26, 2022, story “IBM Cannot Kill This Age-Discrimination Lawsuit Linked to CEO.” Despite Covid, financial turmoil, and the unfortunate events in Eastern Europe:

The judge overseeing an age-discrimination case against IBM has denied the IT giant’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, citing evidence supporting plaintiff Eugen Schenfeld’s claim that CEO Arvind Krishna, then director of IBM research, made the decision to fire him.

The write up includes a link to a legal document and some snazzy code names; for example, Project Concord, Project Baccarat, and Project Ruby. It appears that each project was intended to get the big, noisy, weird dinobabies out of IBM’s life.

Not happening yet.

The write up asserts that there are more than 10,000 mainframe capable dinobabies vaporized by the “projects” implemented during the scintillating tenure of Ginni Rometty, former president and CEO of Big Blue. (Did you know that Ms. Rometty worked at General Motors, an esteemed automobile company which developed the Chevrolet Bolt, a model which caught on fire?  The owner was not Ginni Rometty. The burning GM vehicle was owned by  an elected official in Vermont.)

IBM may escape punishment for its alleged conversion of humanoids into dinobabies. But it will be interesting to follow the legal machinations which now seeks to transform dinobabies into hamsters and gerbils with mainframe and other esoteric skills.

Plus the lawyers can consult IBM Watson for inputs!

Stephen E Arnold,March 4, 2022

IBM Watson: Creative Re-Explaining

February 25, 2022

I read “IBM Charts New Brand Direction With Campaign Built Around Creativity.”

The article contains an interesting statement allegedly articulated by Jonathan Adashek, cco and svp of marketing and communications at IBM

Adashek said IBM has historically had trouble articulating a clear and unifying purpose for a business as sprawling and multifaceted as the 110-year-old enterprise giant has become. But with business moves like the Kyndryl spinoff helping to strengthen the company’s core focus on growth areas like artificial intelligence and hybrid cloud computing, IBM decided it was time to boil down its public-facing message.

Does this mean the Watson “anti creativity” has been left behind?

Nope. Here’s some evidence:

Ogilvy global chief creative officer Liz Taylor said the concept for the campaign evolved out of the idea that a certain type of creative thinking is central to the business projects that many IBM clients are attempting to tackle—and that the company’s range of enterprise tech and consulting services can help with that. “It really started in the sort of notion of this era of creativity is the defining currency of business,” Taylor said. “It’s not necessarily creativity in the way I might think of my job, but our audience is just increasingly responsible for creating and executing visions for how to compete in this new world.”

Yep, IBM is creative: Clever contracts related to a certain nation state in the good old WW2 era, addressing cancer and telling, “You are history”, and now a type of creative different from that delivered by Madison Avenue-types.

Yep, “not necessarily creativity in the way I might think of my job” which is to explain that IBM fuels creativity.

Logical? Not necessarily. Did you know that IBM’s creativity allowed it to acquire a Microsoft Azure consulting firm called Neudisic? Buying innovation and a revenue stream for a semi successful cloud provider? Yes. Creative? Sure.

Stephen E Arnold, February 25, 2022

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