IBM Watson AI and WatsonX explained

Here's everything you need to know about the revival of IBM's Watson AI

IBM Watson and WatsonX artificial intelligence platform developed by International Business Machines Corporation.

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Just over a decade ago, IBM’s Watson supercomputer showcased some of the potential of artificial intelligence. The AI system made history in 2011, becoming the first computer to defeat a human in popular gameshow ‘Jeopardy!’. Since then, the corporate computing firm hasn’t made many AI-generated headlines — until now. At its core, Watson is a data analytics processor that uses natural language processing (NLP). The Watson engine has been used to power a few different projects, with Watson X being the most recent, but IBM has a quickly growing portfolio of AI products. Let’s demystify IBM Watson AI and WatsonX.

What is Watson X?

IBM (International Business Machines Corporation) created WatsonX to utilize AI and automation to harness productivity in large-scale businesses. Using WatsonX, businesses will be able to efficiently train and deploy custom AI capabilities across their entire company, whilst remaining in full control of their data.

WatsonX from IBM, the artificial intelligence software suite built on legendary Watson AI.
WatsonX from IBM, the artificial intelligence software suite built on legendary Watson AI.

The platform of WatsonX consists of three powerful components:

  • WastonX.AI studio can be used for the creation of new foundation models, generative AI, and machine learning.
  • The WatsonX.data is a “fit-for-purpose” data store, with the performance of a data warehouse and the flexibility of a data lake. You can connect to your data in just minutes, and get trusted insight on data usage, storage, and safety.
  • Finally, the WatsonX.governance toolkit to help you monitor and manage AI usage across the company to mitigate both software and ethical risks. It enables AI workflows to be built on transparency and responsibility.

Essentially, WatsonX was built to optimize the outcomes of AI in your business while ensuring the safe and responsible use of data. It will streamline and automate basic tasks in a wide variety of areas from customer service, and coding, to the training of new AI models. In a large multinational organization, this could mean running hundreds, even thousands, of models at any time – this is a process that WatsonX could automate for you, saving companies hours of time. All-in-all, WatsonX is a Swiss-army-knife like tool that will help to smoothly integrate AI into your business using its many skills.

IBM is partnering with AI startup Hugging Face for the relaunch of Watson, and we know that so far, both NASA and Wix have signed on as potential clients. Although Watson currently remains in a closed beta test, it is now confirmed that WatsonX will officially launch on the 27th of July.

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IBM Watson AI model compared to OpenAI GPT-4V and GPT-4 Turbo

David Ferrucci, the award-winning “star scientist” who lead the IBM Watson team from inception in 2006 has conceded that the AI system is a narrow AI. It was perfect for identifying word patterns and predicting correct answers for Jeopardy!, however, lacks the general applicability of todays ChatGPT. This is especially true when comparing IBM Watson to OpenAI AI models GPT-4V and GPT-4 Turbo.

GPT-4V, also known as GPT-4(Vision) or GPT-4 with Vision, is a VLM. As a Visual Language Model, it has the same capabilities as any other modern large language model, in addition to computer vision. This is the ability of an AI system to interpret a visual input, such as a JPG or PNG image file, and perform tasks such as spatial recognition and object classification from within the image. A very recent development in the market, computer vision is cutting-edge frontier in AI multimodality.

GPT-4 Turbo, confirmed at OpenAI DevDay on Monday November 6th, 2023, is now the most powerful LLM on earth. Exerting an impressive lead on the competition, the new neural network brings fresh training data to the world-leading GPT-4 generation. Now capable of referring to real-world events and data up to April 2023, in addition to searching the web via ‘Browse with Bing’ for anything it can’t find without internet access, a premium subscription to ChatGPT Plus or ChatGPT Enterprise just became even more worth it.

Is Watson AI a chatbot?

While Watson X is not a chatbot, you can find chatbot features when using a different facet of Watson AI, IBM Watson Assistant (formerly Watson Conversation). Watson Assistant is a customer service chatbot built on machine learning and natural language processing, while also leveraging large language models. It was created to complete user’s intended actions through conversational AI, with an intent detection algorithm that is now 79% accurate according to the IBM website. The deep learning models in the chatbot automatically adapt to your business domain, and will always refer the user to a human agent when necessary.

Final thoughts

WatsonX is a huge leap for the mainstreaming of artificial intelligence and machine-learning models into business use. IBM research is ongoing as they attempt to rival big names in the AI market such as ChatGPT. If you’re interested in the use of the Watson suite for your business, you could consider joining the waitlist on the IBM website.

Marla writes across a wide range of topics across PC Guide, including AI, PC hardware, and news on the latest tech releases. She's a passionate writer that's interested in the future of technology.