Video: Rise of the smart machine

In this interview, Gartner research fellow Steve Prentice speaks to Cliff Saran about the opportunities smart machines present.

Gartner defines a smart machine as one that performs functions previously thought impossible of a computer.

"Some smart machines may be just a virtual system built in software, while others are very real, like robotics and autonomous vehicles," he said.

Prentice believes smart machines represents the next generation of computing, and will shape society in a similar way to the industrial revolution. 

"Smart machines take on tasks we thought only humans could do. They encroach on human space, but we are at a very early stage in their development," he said.

For now, smart machines – like autonomous cars – are not truly smart, since they need to be programmed, according to Prentice. When they become truly smart, Prentice expects society will have to face difficult moral choices. 

He said: "Machines will truly learn by themselves. At that point we lose control. Who will be responsible when the decisions they take are wrong?"

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An exciting time, for sure. This generation will finally witness the rise of smart machines. The next will see their full implementation. We can only hope they'll be much, much, much more secure than our current not-so-dumb machines. If not, we'll face a future of hacked robots and cars that steal themselves....
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