Gartner Blog Network

Tom Austin
VP & Gartner Fellow
20 years at Gartner
41 years IT industry

Tom Austin, VP, has been a Gartner Fellow since 1997. He drives Gartner's research content incubator (the Maverick Program) and is leading a new research community creating research on the emerging era of smart machines. Read Full Bio

Here we go again! More bad assumptions fueling new movies, fears…

by Tom Austin  |  January 29, 2015

In a recent article, the BBC has repeated fear stories like this: “The Spectrum computer’s inventor Sir Clive Sinclair … [says] he believes it is unavoidable that artificial intelligences will wipe out mankind. Once you start to make machines that are rivalling and surpassing humans with intelligence, it’s going to be very difficult for us to […]

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Kudos to Eric Horvitz, managing director of Microsoft Research Lab and lead AI researcher

by Tom Austin  |  January 28, 2015

I want to be clear. I try not to endorse vendors or vendor products in this blog. This post will be no exception. Levi Sumagaysay posted a quote from Eric Horvitz (Microsoft MSR AI lead)  in her silicon beat blog“ “There have been concerns about the long-term prospect that we lose control of certain kinds […]

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Kudos to Andrew Ng (Stanford, Google, Baidu)

by Tom Austin  |  January 23, 2015

Andrew is chief scientist at Baidu research labs in California; CS faculty at Sanford and former direct of AI research at Google. In a recent interview with the Wall St Journal, he said: WSJ: Who’s at the forefront of deep learning? Ng: There are a lot of deep-learning startups. Unfortunately, deep learning is so hot today […]

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Bravo to The Future of Life Institute’s Research Initiatives and Musk’s Investment

by Tom Austin  |  January 19, 2015

Today, the FLI (Future of Life Institute) portal opens to proposals for funding research that aligns with the priorities they lay out in this paper. FLI’s focus is on making AI more capable, more socially acceptable and maximizing its social benefits while minimizing the negative consequences. While I’ve taken issue with much of the fear […]

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What can we learn from bird brains?

by Tom Austin  |  January 6, 2015

Have you seen the chatter on computational neuroscience, computational neurobiology, the existential risks AI poses for all of humanity and other dire forecasts for the future impact of all-knowing, sentient artificial intelligence? All of it makes great intuitive leaps from models of how neurons behave to methods for constructing general purpose machine intelligence at a […]

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Tomorrow’s Article Today — The Big Miss of IQ tests

by Tom Austin  |  December 31, 2014

There’s a thought provoking piece on the Scientific American site entitled “Rational and Irrational Thought: The Thinking that IQ Tests Miss” subtitled “Why smart people sometimes do dumb things.” There’s a cute set of tests the authors provide to evaluate “dysrationalia” and its causes that everyone ought to take. As before, I find the authors […]

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Get smart: Why is it smart to avoid talking about intelligence (machine or human)?

by Tom Austin  |  December 16, 2014

I avoid using the words “intelligence” and “intelligent” in my research and instead use the word “smart.” Why? Smart is a far less pretentious term than Intelligent. You can be a smart-alec (a ‘wise guy’), a smart dresser, a smarty pants or part of a smart mob. Indeed, there are at least 127 different SMART […]

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What else don’t we know about brain function?

by Tom Austin  |  December 10, 2014

In “AI: If you start with a false premise, enything’s possible,” I argued that we don’t know enough about brain function to emulate the brain of a human. On retrospection, I probably could have said goldfish or maybe even earthworm but let’s stay on point. A complete listing of what we don’t know isn’t possible. […]

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AI: If you start with a false premise, anything’s possible

by Tom Austin  |  December 1, 2014

If you start with the premise that someone will soon develop a smart machine that is as intelligent as humans (or more so), then it’s easy to come up with all sorts of fantastic potential outcomes to scare the Dickens (or delight the soul) of the reader.  Ray Kurzweil, in his book The Singularity Is […]

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How Smart Are We Really? (hint — not very but help is on the way…)

by Tom Austin  |  November 20, 2014

Another proposal for a new alternative to the ’Turing test’ has emerged. It’s not interesting if you’re trying to determine if technology has finally equalled or surpassed human intelligence (whatever that is.) It is interesting because it provides a different approach to quantifying relative differences between machines but it’s too biased towards “humanness” measure instead […]

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