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One area of AI that’s red-hot is virtual agents — smart software that companies are building to chat with their customers through text, voice, or a web chat box. IBM says it has emerged as the only serious provider of this technology for the enterprise. Rob Thomas, general manager at IBM overseeing data and AI, recently sat down with VentureBeat founder Matt Marshall for an interview.

Thomas called the rest of the virtual agent providers “fireflies,” since there are so many of them, and predicts that in three years 100% of companies will have virtual agents.

One, it’s a set of tools for companies that want to build their own AI. So if you’re a builder, you need a studio for building models, you need a place to deploy them, [and] you need to build and manage the lifecycle of your models and understand how decisions are being made. You need human features like speech and voice and vision.

Probably the littlest known fact is that 85% of the work that happens in Watson is open source. People are building models in Python, deploying in TensorFlow — that type of thing.

One, it’s a set of tools for companies that want to build their own AI. So if you’re a builder, you need a studio for building models, you need a place to deploy them, [and] you need to build and manage the lifecycle of your models and understand how decisions are being made. You need human features like speech and voice and vision.

https://venturebeat.com/2019/12/15/ibm-watson-exec-on-ai-virtual-agent-providers-no-big-players-except-for-us/

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