CES 2019: IBM's Ginni Rometty says "100% of jobs will be different" due to AI

At CES, the IBM CEO announces a new Apprenticeship Coalition with partners like Walmart and Ford.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

Artificial intelligence will destroy jobs, and it will create jobs, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty said on the CES keynote stage in Las Vegas on Wednesday. But no matter how that balance shakes out, "100 percent of jobs will be different," she said.

Rometty used her keynote to announce a new Apprenticeship Coalition to support those looking for work in an AI-powered economy. IBM is joining with the Consumer Technology Assocation , as well as several corporate partners including Walmart, Ford and Sprint.

The CEO talked further about the changes on the horizon because of AI, which she said will come with the advent of "broad AI." While "narrow" is good at learning one task in one domain and general AI is human-like in its processing capabilities, broad AI falls somewhere in between -- it excels at many tasks across domains. That means it should take less training data.

Broad AI, Rometty said, "is going to give us time to market with a lot less training data."

Dario Gil, IBM's head of AI and quantum research, said general AI is "decades away," but broad AI will serve as a stepping stone there.

As AI improves, Rometty said, organizations will be able to take greater advantage of "deep data" -- granular data that often goes uncollected. The IBM-owned Weather Company, for instance, is using crowdsourced sensor data to improve local weather forecasting globally. IBM's Weather Channel app has come under fire for its handling of data from cell phone users, but Rometty said the new forecasting capabilities will only tap data from individual cell phones with consent from the user.

Rometty also talked on stage to Delta CEO Ed Bastian, who said the airline is using data to power predictive maintenance and reduce flight cancellations. While cancellations were once a regular occurrence, Delta had 251 days with no cancellations in 2018, he said.


Quantum computing is also on the horizon, Rometty said, with the introduction of IBM's quantum computing system. It's "not just a lab experiment, not just a chip, it is a full system," she said.

Rometty announced that ExxonMobil is the first energy company to join the IBM Q Network, a collaborative research effort to advance quantum computing. There are now more than 42 institutions in the network. 

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