Dr. Aya Soffer

IBM Research
Putting Generative AI to Work: What Have We Learned So Far?
Aya Soffer


Dr. Aya Soffer is the Vice President of AI Technologies and the Director of the IBM Research Lab in Haifa.
IBM Research – Haifa employs researchers in several strategic areas, including artificial intelligence, hybrid cloud, security, blockchain, the future of health, and quantum. As the director of the lab, Aya works with the local teams to set and pursue the research strategy in these areas, and also focuses on the technical vitality of the lab. She’s also responsible for the lab’s positioning in the Israeli high-tech ecosystem, which includes academic and research institutes, multinational corporations with operations in Israel, and Israeli corporations with a global presence, as well as VC-backed startups. The lab enjoys a wide collaboration with academic and industry organizations outside Israel, particularly in Europe.
As the Vice President of AI Technologies, Aya focuses on natural language understanding and conversational systems and their application in customer care and other enterprise applications. In this role, she’s responsible for setting the strategy and working with IBM scientists around the world to shape their ideas into new AI technologies, as well as working with IBM’s product groups and customers to drive research innovation into the market.
In her 22 years at IBM, Dr. Soffer has led several strategic initiatives that grew into successful IBM products and solutions in the Big Data and AI space, including the original Watson system and more recently, Project Debater. She has authored over 50 peer-reviewed papers, filed over 15 patents, and served as an invited speaker in many conferences.
Dr. Soffer received her MS and PhD degrees in computer science from the University of Maryland, College Park, in 1992 and 1995, respectively. Before joining IBM in 1999, she was a research scientist at the Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA), where she worked on digital libraries for earth science data.


In this talk, I will describe some of the challenges we are facing in deploying generative AI with IBM’s customers. I will describe the work we are doing to develop evaluation platforms that allow customers to validate and test the solutions they are building, techniques to guardrail LLMs, and tests for LLM safety, as well as technologies that allow customers to choose between models for specific tasks. I will also describe some early success stories of using generative AI in enterprise use cases.


8:45 Reception
9:30 Opening remarks by WiDS TLV ambassadors Noah Eyal Altman, Or Basson, and Nitzan Gado
9:45 Dr. Aya Soffer, IBM: "Putting Generative AI to Work: What Have We Learned So Far?"
10:15 Prof. Reut Tsarfaty, Bar-llan University: "Will Hebrew Speakers Be Able to Use Generative AI in Their Native Tongue?"
10:45 Poster Pitches
10:55 Break
11:10 Lightning talks
12:30 Lunch & poster session
13:30 Roundtable session & poster session
14:15 Roundtable closing
14:30 Break
14:40 Naomi Ken Korem, Lightricks: "Mastering the Art of Generative Models: Training and Controlling Text-to-Video Models"
15:00 Dr. Yael Mathov, Intuit: "Surviving the AI-pocalypse: Your Guide to LLM Security"
15:20 Closing remarks
15:30 The end