Twenty-five years ago this month, IBM Research India was launched inside the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi. From modest beginnings studying the fields of e-commerce, weather modeling, speech processing, education and collaboration tools, IBM Research India has grown into a multi-lab facility producing research that’s impacting both India and the world. Leaders from around IBM, as well as enterprise and government partners gathered recently to celebrate the achievements of IBM Research India at the facility in Bengaluru.
Over the last 25 years, the IBM India research labs (often referred to as IRL) have contributed to some of the biggest moments in IBM’s technology journey. A few years after starting up, it contributed to some of the major components of the system software for BlueGene, then the fastest supercomputer in the world, which IBM built for the Lawrence Livermore and Argonne National Laboratories.
“The work of the IRL has been critical to advancing IBM’s technology agenda, and it will continue to be even more impactful scale for decades to come,” said Darío Gil, IBM Senior Vice President and Director of Research, at the event in Bengaluru.
More recently, IRL has emerged as one of the leaders in AI space and has played a pioneering role in developing trusted and fair AI. Researchers have made major contributions to AI Fairness 360, a comprehensive open-source toolkit that includes metrics to check for unwanted bias in datasets and machine learning models, as well as cutting-edge algorithms to mitigate bias. IRL has also launched major AI and hybrid cloud academic networks, with partners including IIT-Bombay, IIT-Delhi, and the Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, as well as a partnership with IIT-Madras for quantum computing.
“In AI, we have IRL to thank for major contributions in AI for data, AI for automation, trusted and explainable AI, and foundation models,” Gil said. “You are pivotal to the building of our trusted conversational AI systems.”
IRL has been at the forefront of tackling some of the biggest problems that IBM Research has worked on over the last two and a half decades. Teams have built conversational AI systems that have gone into Watson Assistant product, developed conversation systems for Indian languages to handle the large number of citizen queries during the COVID-19 pandemic for the Indian Council of Medical Research, and pioneered much of the AI technology that was used to create IBM Cloud Pak for Watson AIOps, the application modernization accelerator for IBM Consulting. IRL is also playing a major role in shaping the next generation of AI with foundation models and generative AI for IT and business automation.
Beyond AI, the labs in India have been carrying out pioneering work in blockchain research for system software, privacy-preserving collaboration, innovative networks, and interoperability. IRL has also been leading work in sustainability efforts, and recently released the Carbon Performance Engine that helps businesses account for and report greenhouse gas emissions.
IBM Research has had the privilege of being a key contributor to the research and enterprise ecosystem in India over the last 25 years. From this foundation, IRL convened the Science for Scale Summit with participants from across the Indian ecosystem – government, academia, and industry.
Science for Scale brought together leaders, experts, and imaginative thinkers together to identify opportunities and recommendations for India to develop scientific breakthroughs and scale their impact for the nation, leveraging the emerging vectors of Computing - AI, quantum computing, 5G and distributed cloud, cybersecurity, and sustainability.
“Every time I come here, I feel the energy, the enthusiasm, the motivation, and drive of all of you,” Gil said, speaking to his colleagues at the event. “You have the right mix of technology capabilities and industry expertise, and it shows — your impact goes beyond IBM, it extends to the Indian ecosystem through your engagements with top Indian research institutions.”