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

A toast to mavericks, whomever you are

by Tom Austin  |  October 14, 2016

A toast to mavericks, down with specialization myopia and up with cultivating a breadth of abilities Interesting piece A 1951 look at (and contemporary commentary on) what people can do better than machines. One of the core conclusions then? Humans are flexible. They contain “general purpose intelligence.” I was struck by a cited Heinlein […]

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Don’t blame the technology — we have a Labor-Social-People-Government-Business problem

by Tom Austin  |  February 16, 2016

The authors of this piece in the UK Guardian on AI and unemployment may be overly optimistic or not on the progress of AI and it may be 100 years rather than 50 (or 10 instead of 50) but this isn’t about technology. It’s something very different.   Consider this one quote:   “…technology has […]

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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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