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

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 […]

Read more »

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 […]

Read more »

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 […]

Read more »

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 […]

Read more »

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. […]

Read more »

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 […]

Read more »

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 […]

Read more »

Smart Machines Are Going to Revolutionize How We Work — Starting with Email

by Tom Austin  |  November 19, 2014

Microsoft, Google and IBM are all over this point, investing heavily to reinvent email — eventually replacing the inbox (and folders and other machinery of office drudgery) with a virtual personal assistant (a la the Apple Knowledge Navigator video from 1987.) Watch the video. Are you ready for it?

Read more »

Smart Machines: Tying Natural Language Processing and Image Processing — Image Scene Analysis Progress

by Tom Austin  |  November 18, 2014

The New York Times pointed out a body of image processing research published by Stanford and Google. The NYT piece gets into the basics and potential implications while the Stanford abstract shows some brilliant examples of results obtained. All of this feels like major progress for the continued evolution of smart machines. We are in […]

Read more »

Fridge Fantasies Redux

by Tom Austin  |  May 23, 2014

Read yet another piece where people were talking about IoT and how internet connected fridges would tell our smart phones to remind us when we came close to a grocery store that we only had 50 ml of Milk left so please pick some up. Oh, and by the way, buy brand Zed because it’s […]

Read more »