IBM has laid off approximately 50 and 70 per cent of staff this week in its Watson Health division, according to inside sources. The axe, we're told, is largely falling on IBMers within companies the IT goliath has taken over in the past few years to augment Watson's credentials in the health industry. These include medical data biz Truven, which was acquired in 2016 for $2.6bn, medical imaging firm Merge, bought in 2015 for $1bn, and healthcare management business Phytel, also snapped up in 2015. Yesterday and today, staff were let go at IBM's offices in Dallas, Texas, as well as in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Cleveland, Ohio, and Denver, Colorado, in the US, and elsewhere, it is claimed. A spokesperson for Big Blue was not available for comment.
IBM has teamed up with Local Motors, a Phoenix-based automotive manufacturer that made the first 3D-printed car, to create a self-driving electric bus. Named "Olli," the bus has room for 12 people and uses IBM Watson's cloud-based cognitive computing system to provide information to passengers. In addition to automatically driving you where you want to go using Phoenix Wings autonomous driving technology, Olli can respond to questions and provide information, similar to Amazon's Echo home assistant. The bus debuts today in the Washington D.C. area for the public to use during select times over the next several months, and the IBM-Local Motors team hopes to introduce Olli to the Miami and Las Vegas areas by the end of the year. By using Watson's speech to text, natural language classifier, entity extraction, and text to speech APIs, the bus can provide several services beyond taking you to your destination.
IBM has teamed up with an electric vehicle company to put its Watson artificial intelligence into a driverless electric bus. Dubbed Olli, the autonomous vehicle will be used to take passengers around Washington DC, and is the brainchild of Local Motors, the Arizona-based automaker. It said its bus is the first vehicle to use IBM Watson's car-focused cognitive learning platform, Watson Internet of Things (IoT) for Automotive. Local Motors unveiled the bus at its new facility in National Harbor, Maryland, 12 miles from the US capital. The bus itself is 3D-printed and can carry up to 12 people and is powered by an electric motor.
If IBM is looking for a new application for its Watson machine learning tools, it might consider putting health care providers' procurement and systems integration woes ahead of curing cancer. The fall-out from that project has now prompted the resignation of the cancer center's president, Ronald DePinho, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. The university recently published an internal audit report into the procurement processes that led it to hand almost $40 million to IBM and over $21 million to PwC for work on the project, almost all of it without board approval. It noted that the scope of its review was limited to contracting and procurement practices and compliance issues, and did not cover project management and system development activities. The audit "should not be interpreted as an opinion on the scientific basis or functional capabilities of the system in its current state," because a separate review of those aspects of the project is being conducted by an external consultant, it said.
A family in Portland, Oregon, claims that their Alexa, a voice-controlled smart speaker by Amazon, eavesdropped on their conversation and then shared it. They called the company to investigate the issue and vowed never to use the device again. "My husband and I would joke and say I'd bet these devices are listening to what we're saying," Danielle, who did not give her last name, told KIRO-TV on Thursday. She said her family was shocked to find out that a talk they had in their home was sent to one of their contacts hundreds of miles away in Seattle, Washington. The family has the voice-controlled smart devices installed in every room, which they use to control the heat, lights, and security system in their home.