Jul 13, 2017

IBM's Watson gets no love on Wall Street

Seth Wenig / AP

A debate rages in the tech community over whether IBM's Watson computing system is all hype, or the source of real and potential advances in the science of artificial intelligence. Venture Capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya, for instance, has called Watson a "joke" that is the product of IBM's PR operations rather than serious AI science.

MIT's Tech Review, however, recently argued Watson "will be a leader in applying AI to health care's woes," and that if it hasn't achieved hoped-for breakthroughs yet, it's only because "it needs certain types of data to be 'trained,'" and that this data has been difficult to access—a problem that all AI-intensive firms face, not just IBM.

Wall Street is skeptical: Just 5 analysts of 21 tracked by Money.net have a buy rating on IBM stock, while Jefferies analyst James Kisner cut his price target for the company again Tuesday, from $135 to $125, based on his skepticism of Watson. The stock was trading at $153.81 as of publication.

Kisner writes in a note to clients that "While IBM offers one of the more mature cognitive computing platforms today," it is complicated and expensive for enterprises to implement because Watson "has exacting standards when it comes to data enterprises can feed it." Kisner also notes:

  • IBM has been focused on promoting Watson to the investment community, but refuses to break out financial information like revenue derived from the program.
  • "IBM appears outgunned in the talent war" for AI experts, beaten out by rivals like Amazon.
  • Even in the rosiest estimates for revenue driven by Watson, Kisner estimates that massive investment in the project would barely recoup the cost of that capital.

Wherever you fall in the debate over whether Watson represents the state-of-the-art in artificial intelligence, many of Wall Street's top analysts say the profits and losses that result from the project will be disappointing.

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U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll passes 9,600

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Recorded deaths from the novel coronavirus surpassed 9,600 in the U.S. Sunday night, per Johns Hopkins data. The death toll in the U.S. has risen over 1,000 every day since April 1.

Why it matters: U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on Sunday this upcoming week will be "the hardest and saddest week of most Americans' lives" — calling it our "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment."

Go deeperArrowUpdated 10 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10:30 p.m. ET: 1,273,990 — Total deaths: 69,444 — Total recoveries: 260,247Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10:30 p.m. ET: 337,310 — Total deaths: 9,634 — Total recoveries: 17,461Map.
  3. Federal government latest: Surgeon general says this week will be "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment." The USDA confirms that a Bronx zoo tiger tested positive for coronavirus.
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. Biden says DNC may have to hold virtual convention.
  5. States updates: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state is "literally going day-to-day" with supplies.
  6. World update: Queen Elizabeth II urges the British people to confront pandemic with "self-discipline" and "resolve" in rare televised address.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Intelligence community watchdog suggests Trump fired him for doing his job

Michael Atkinson, Inspector General of the Intelligence Community,at the Capitol in October. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson suggested in a statement Sunday President Trump fired him for acting impartially in carrying out his duties following a whistleblower complaint.

Why it matters: Atkinson alerted Congress last September to the complaint on Trump's correspondence with Ukraine's president, triggering an inquiry that resulted in the Trump's impeachment.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy