Axed engineers say IBM isn’t always smart about artificial intelligence
IBM, a venerable tech company on a mission to stay relevant, has staked much of its future on IBM Watson. The company has touted Watson, its flagship artificial intelligence, as the premier product for turning our data-rich but disorganized world into a smart and tidy planet.
Just last month, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty told a convention audience that we’re at an inflection point in history. Putting AI into everything will enable businesses to improve on “an exponential curve,” she said—a phenomenon that might one day be referred to as “Watson’s Law.”
But according to engineers swept up in a major round of layoffs within IBM’s Watson division last month, the company’s promotions of its “cognitive computing” platform mask its own real difficulties in turning its AI into a profitable business.
“IBM Watson has great AI,” one engineer said, who asked to remain anonymous so he wouldn’t lose his severance package. “It’s like having great shoes, but not knowing how to walk—they have to figure out how to use it.”
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