Arvind Krishna took over as chief executive officer of IBM last year as the coronavirus pandemic was taking hold around the world. Krishna, who joined the company in 1990, has expanded its footprint in the cloud, artificial intelligence, quantum computing and blockchain technology. He recently predicted the majority of IBM’s employees could stay in hybrid roles indefinitely. Krishna joined Washington Post Live to discuss the company’s latest innovations, the challenges to America’s technological leadership and the future of work.


Arvind Krishna also said the company’s new computer chip is 5,000-times smaller than a human hair, and nearly doubles the performance of the current most advanced chip. “We often talk in the semiconductor industry about moving in nanometers meaning how small are the features on these semiconductors. And this one at two nanometers, just to give you a sense, the [inaudible] is at seven nanometers and it’s most advanced. So this is quite a bit smaller. And in terms of the technology involved, human hair is ten thousand nanometers, so that gives you a sense of how tiny these features are… It uses one fourth as much energy as today’s seven nanometer technology, so that tells you that you could make cell phones that may be four times longer in battery life, or you could power a data center with one-fourth as much energy as before. You also get twice as much performance, well, 40, 43-percent more performance…. So you put all that together and that really gives us a way forward for what we can do in semiconductors.” (Washington Post Live)
Arvind Krishna said these computers will have the ability to solve problems–from climate change to electric vehicle batteries–which current computers cannot. “We have put a roadmap out that by 2023 we expect to be at a 1000-cubit computer. So, 2023 or 2024, we’re going to be able to start solving problems that could have a large impact. There’s some hard engineering challenges between now and then, reduce the errors in these machines, make sure they can stay up for long periods of time, make sure that they are fully programmable, but I have confidence we’re going to get there. And as we get there, problems in materials, problems in risk, problems in financial modelling such as pricing, maybe EV battery technology, then going down the road a little bit, problems around supply chains, how to minimize fuel consumption, maybe weather predictions and modelling–those that’s probably a little bit harder–are all problems that will be in the realm of quantum computers and that means you bring so much value when you think about the climate change crisis, we think about lightweight materials, we think about EVs, there’s so much promise in what these technologies can deliver us a few years down the road, and now it’s a few years, no longer a few decades.” (Washington Post Live)
Arvind Krishna said cybersecurity will be the issue of the decade because people’s data “is the modern way to capture value.” “I actually believe cybersecurity will be the issue of the decade. Not a surprise because getting hold of people’s data and information is the modern way to capture value. Alright, so this is when we go to increase as an issue. I actually fundamentally believe that the U.S. government should create maybe a program like NASA, equivalent to putting a man on the moon, with that level of investment and public private partnership to work together[…] If you look at what NASA did… you need to spend perhaps 100 billion on this… It surprises me that we’re not stepping it up.” (Washington Post Live)

Arvind Krishna

Provided by IBM.

Arvind Krishna is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of IBM. As a business leader and technologist, he has led the building and expansion of new markets for IBM in artificial intelligence, cloud, quantum computing, and blockchain. He has also played a significant role in the development of innovative IBM products and solutions based on these emerging technologies.

Over his 30-year career at IBM, Arvind led a series of bold transformations and delivered proven business results. He most recently drove the successful $34 billion acquisition of Red Hat – the largest software acquisition – that has defined the hybrid cloud market. Together, IBM and Red Hat give clients the unique ability to build mission-critical applications once and run them anywhere.

Arvind previously was senior vice president of Cloud and Cognitive Software, where he pioneered the company’s hybrid cloud business, transformed IBM’s entire software and services portfolio and offerings for cloud, and grew the business. He also headed IBM Research, where he drove innovation in core and emerging technologies including artificial intelligence, quantum computing, blockchain, cloud platform services, data-driven solutions, and nanotechnology. In 2016, Wired Magazine selected Arvind as “one of 25 geniuses who are creating the future of business” for his foundational work on blockchain.

As general manager of IBM Systems and Technology Group’s development and manufacturing organization, Arvind led the strategy for data-centric systems and the widespread industry adoption of open and collaborative technology standards. He also grew the IBM Information Management business by 50 percent.

At IBM, Arvind has been an outspoken advocate for learning at every stage of one’s career. He has made scientific contributions in a number of technical fields, including wireless networking, security, systems, and databases. In addition, he founded IBM’s security software business and helped create the world’s first commercial wireless system.

Arvind has an undergraduate degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IITK) and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the recipient of distinguished alumni awards from both institutions.