Meta and IBM's new AI Alliance poised to square up with tech titans

  • More than 50 companies, schools, government entities and organizations joined the IBM and Meta-led AI Alliance

  • The group is focused on speeding development of a safe and open AI ecosystem

  • Analysts said there's a good reason why some big names in the AI space aren't involved

Under cover of night (in the U.S., anyway), Meta and IBM launched a new AI Alliance, uniting dozens of entities working in the space to speed innovation and tackle safety concerns surrounding artificial intelligence (AI).

Among other things, the group aims to develop benchmarks and evaluation standards for responsible AI systems; broaden the ecosystem of open foundation models; expand the AI hardware accelerator ecosystem; and boost AI skills building and research.

IBM CEO Arvind Krishna said in a statement “This is a pivotal moment in defining the future of AI.” He added the AI Alliance will help ensure an “open ecosystem drives an innovative AI agenda underpinned by safety, accountability and scientific rigor."

More than 50 companies, academic institutions, government entities and organizations signed on for the launch. These include big names such as AMD, CERN, the Cleveland Clinic, Dell Technologies, Intel, the Linux Foundation, the National Science Foundation, Oracle, Red Hat and ServiceNow as well as educational institutions in the U.S., U.K., U.A.E., Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan and Switzerland.

But several big names in the AI space were notably missing, including Amazon, Google, Microsoft, OpenAI and Nvidia.

Analysts react

 New Street Research’s Pierre Ferragu and team said there could be good reason for their absence.

“This shows that the emerging dominance of Nvidia, Open AI, Microsoft & (potentially) Google in the field is a source of concern for many,” they wrote. “An alliance against leaders is mostly about creating a better-paved, or better-standardized environment, in order to limit the ability of leaders to build excessively closed and strong ecosystems.”

IDC’s GVP of AI and Automation Ritu Jyoti offered Silverlinings a similar take: “This alliance is focused on open source and providing customers viable alternatives to the current dominant offerings – meaning providing on-premises/hybrid scenarios vs. just public cloud solutions as well as alternative accelerator solutions. That explains why some of the major players are missing at the get-go.”

New Street’s team noted the Alliance’s existence is also evidence of “a growing appetite for generative AI diversity,” particularly in the wake of the recent drama at OpenAI. That said, New Street Research noted that the efforts of other major alliances – such as the Open RAN coalition led by Nokia – failed to pan out for their leaders

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Moor Insights and Strategy’s Patrick Moorhead said he wants to see more networking and software-as-a-service players in the Alliance’s mix.

He added the group’s “degree of success will be determined by speed of agreement and the investment of real R&D resources. IBM is dedicating specific resources. The alliance needs some quick wins.”