IBM: In the next 5 years computers will learn, mimic the human senses
By 2018, machines that will experience the world as humans do through hearing, sight, smell, touch and taste
By Michael Cooney | Network World US | Published: 11:29, 18 December 2012
Good taste: IBM said its researchers are developing a computing system that experiences flavour, to be used with chefs to create the most tasty and novel recipes. Such a system breaks down ingredients to their molecular level and blend the chemistry of food compounds with the psychology behind what flavors and smells humans prefer. By comparing this with millions of recipes, the system will be able to create new flavor combinations that pair, for example, roasted chestnuts with other foods such as cooked beetroot, fresh caviar, and dry-cured ham, IBM says.
Specifically, the computer will be able to use algorithms to determine the precise chemical structure of food and why people like certain tastes. These algorithms will examine how chemicals interact with each other, the molecular complexity of flavour compounds and their bonding structure, and use that information, together with models of perception to predict the taste appeal of flavours.
You smell funny: IBM says that during the next five years, tiny sensors embedded in your computer or cell phone will detect if you're coming down with a cold or other illness. By analysing odours, biomarkers and thousands of molecules in someone's breath, doctors will have help diagnosing and monitoring the onset of ailments such as liver and kidney disorders, asthma, diabetes and epilepsy by detecting which odors are normal and which are not. Due to advances in sensor and communication technologies in combination with deep learning systems, sensors can measure data in places never thought possible. For example, computer systems can be used in agriculture to "smell" or analyse the soil condition of crops.
The point isn't to replicate human brains Meyerson says and this isn't about replacing human thinking with machine thinking. "Rather, in the era of cognitive systems, humans and machines will collaborate to produce better results-each bringing their own superior skills to the partnership. The machines will be more rational and analytic. We'll provide the judgment, empathy, morale compass and creativity."
One of IBM's 5 in 5 predictions last year had a cognitive system component to it as well. IBM said the idea was to tie your brain to your devices.
"If you just need to think about calling someone, it happens. Or you can control the cursor on a computer screen just by thinking about where you want to move it. Scientists in the field of bioinformatics have designed headsets with advanced sensors to read electrical brain activity that can recognise facial expressions, excitement and concentration levels, and people's thoughts without them physically taking any actions. Within five years, we will begin to see early applications of this technology in the gaming and entertainment industry. Furthermore, doctors could use the technology to test brain patterns, possibly even assist in rehabilitation from strokes and to help in understanding brain disorders," IBM stated.
Other predictions from last year included:
- No passwords: You will never need a password again because of what IBM calls "multi-factor biometrics." Smart systems will be able to use retina scans and other personal information in real-time to make sure whenever someone is attempting to access your information, it matches your unique biometric profile. To be trusted, such systems should enable you to opt in or out of whatever information you choose to provide. Your biological makeup is the key to your individual identity, and soon, it will become the key to safeguarding it. You will no longer need to create, track or remember multiple passwords for various log-ins. Imagine you will be able to walk up to an ATM machine to securely withdraw money by simply speaking your name or looking into a tiny sensor that can recognise the unique patterns in the retina of your eye, IBM said.
- Digital divide? In five years, the gap between information haves and have-nots will narrow considerably due to advances in mobile technology. There are 7 billion people inhabiting the world today. In five years there will be 5.6 billion mobile devices sold - which means 80% of the current global population would each have a mobile device.
- No more junk? In five years, unsolicited advertisements may feel so personalised and relevant it may seem spam is dead and spam filters will be so precise you'll never be bothered by unwanted sales pitches again, IBM said. IBM pointed out that it is developing technology that uses real-time analytics to make sense and integrate data from across all the facets of your life such as your social networks and online preferences to recommend information that is only useful to you.
- More power: Advances in renewable energy technology will allow individuals to collect all sorts of kinetic energy - walking, bicycling - which now goes to waste, and use it to help power our homes, offices and cities. Imagine attaching small devices to the spokes on your bicycle wheels that recharge batteries as you pedal along. You will have the satisfaction of not only getting to where you want to go, but at the same time powering some of the lights in your home, IBM said.