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The Future of Artificial Intelligence in 2021

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Artificial intelligence in the pandemic has grown at a great pace, Yahoo Finance spoke to IBM about strides in 2021and where businesses can continue to improve.

Video Transcript

ADAM SHAPIRO: We're going to shift gears, though, and talk about what AI and the advancements of Artificial Intelligence-- what's in store for 2021. Where is all of this going to go? better to discuss this than Rob Thomas, who is Senior Vice President IBM's Cloud and Data Platform. Thank you for joining us.

I took-- because I had this very elaborate note from your people about what IBM is already doing with AI in the real world. And you have examples. And we're talking about the Watson computer, by the way, right. GlaxoSmithKline, PayPal, GM Financial-- how am I interacting if I go to those places with IBM's AI? And then what's coming down the pike?

ROB THOMAS: Well first of all, thanks for having me. It's been an amazing year for AI, as we've seen it accelerate with the pandemic. We've seen adoption in businesses go from 4% to 14%. Now I would say we're pushing 20%. And you used some of our great references that are using AI for things like virtual assistants, for AI ops, automating how they manage their it systems.

AI is starting to change the way that business is done. I would say the number one lesson we have learned is there is no AI without IA, meaning Information Architecture. You have to have data in order to do AI. So a lot of these projects become about how we help businesses understand their data and make their data ready for AI.

- So Rob, certainly the promise of AI-- Artificial Intelligence-- is not artificial. It is super real. You're talking about, you take that data. You're processing it. You're coming up with actionable insights for these businesses. I think one of the big questions out there-- and I think you touched upon this in your note-- is trust. And you know, often, we talk about AI from a consumer perspective, how I might interact with a business using AI. But we'd love to understand from the business perspective-- your client's perspective-- and the importance of trust and how you honor that trust.

ROB THOMAS: Many people got their first experience with AI through a consumer use case, like photographs on Instagram or something like that. AI in a business context is actually quite different. And we are focused with Watson on three areas-- language, so how a company understands all their documents, all their communication; automation, we talked a little bit about automating customer service, automating IT operations. The third one is trust. How do you understand all of the AI that you have running in your company?

How can you trust the decisions that are being made? If you're in a regulated industry like Telco or Financial Services, you need to be able to prove to a regulator that you understand how AI is making decisions. So trust is the big third aspect of how we think about AI for business. But all three are very important. You've got to have an understanding of language. You need to have automation. And it all has to be trusted because that is the only way AI will really scale for enterprises.

ADAM SHAPIRO: When you talk about language, automation, and trust, as the consumer, I've been on the chat with companies, and I didn't know if I had a person or AI. Does that trust component carry over to me, the consumer? Are you saying that, for instance, with GM Financial and the Watson Assistant? I mean, you say 50% to 60% of live chat involved AI.

ROB THOMAS: It's always about making the human interaction more efficient because in many of these cases, they're still a customer service rep. But AI is making them more productive, making them better at solving the problem. And in everything that we do in AI, we think trust and transparency is critical. That's why we've set up an AI ethics board.

So we're very focused on being transparent helping our clients also understand how AI is being used in their environment. In fact, one of the things announced just last week is what I would refer to as a nutrition label for AI-- something we developed an IBM research called fact sheets. So any AI that you have running, you can basically get a nutrition label, which is seeing how exactly is it being used, what is the data that's being fed into it. We think this is really critical for any business that wants to run AI.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Rob, as long as it's gluten free, you'll probably have a hit. Forgive my bad humor. Rob Thomas is the Senior Vice President, IBM's Cloud and Data Platform. Thank you for joining us here at Yahoo Finance.