Breaking open the black box

Making the invisible, visible.


As AI becomes a critical part of modern business, the need for organisations to understand what’s going on in their models is essential.

Despite the prevalence of AI in the business world, there is still ambiguity around how the outputs of models are generated, which leads to inaccurate data that ultimately puts a company’s reputation at risk. IBM created a comprehensive solution to break open this AI black box but needed an effective way to showcase the benefits the platform can provide.


Seeing is believing.

For IBM’s marquee Think event, AKQA created an activation centred around podiums that evoked the black box that faces companies without properly maintained AI models. The structures brought to life the phenomenon of cymatics, the study of sound and vibration made visible to represent AI modelling.

Using a vibrating plate and table salt, visitors were guided through three real-life use cases of AI issues that industries face. As visitors selected, built, and deployed their models, the salt on the cymatic plate vibrated in a symmetrical pattern to indicate the AI model was working correctly. As it progressed, governance issues sent the pattern into chaos. By implementing watsonx.governance, an organised pattern was restored, showing the clarity that IBM can offer.


A success at Think and beyond.

The activation coincided with the launch of watsonx, leading to rich and engaging conversations with prospective clients about how the platform could benefit their business. People who engaged with the activation spent an average of over six minutes on each use case, exceeding the pre-event goal by threefold. In addition, AKQA built a digital version of the experience to simulate the cymatics experience for use at other conferences worldwide.