Machine learning at 'peak hype', says Gartner report

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Cognitive computing and machine learning have reached ‘peak hype’ among emerging technologies, according to Gartner’s latest Hype Cycle, an annual review mapping technological trends against their perceived hype.

The research firm categorised a range of new technologies in three bands for its new report. It tips immersive experiences, smart machine technologies and new technology platforms as the highest priorities for digitally progressive organisations.

The major theme of the report is the ever-closing gap between virtual and physical reality. Gartner said technology will become more human-centric to the point it will “introduce transparency between people, businesses and things”, as technology becomes adaptive, contextual and fluid in the workplace and home.

It listed the connected home, gesture control, 4D printing, brain computer interfaces (BCI), and human augmentation among other technologies that will blur the lines between physical and virtual worlds.

Augmented reality and virtual reality, which remain a part of this group, are in Gartner’s ‘trough of disillusionment’ and the ‘slope of enlightenment’ – the twin phases after the ‘peak hype’ has passed.

Virtual reality remains a niche sector, despite Nokia expanding distribution and slashing prices for its professional virtual reality kit, and Intel proclaiming a new era of ‘merged reality’.

More significantly, Gartner said smart machine technologies will be the most disruptive class of technologies over the next 10 years due to “radical computational power, near-endless amounts of data, and unprecedented advances in deep neural networks”. 

Chip maker Qualcomm has been on the front foot with machine learning, bringing it to devices powered by its Snapdragon 820 processors to help with facial recognition and object tracking. At network level, Nokia and China Mobile have recently been testing a cloud-based platform that utilises machine learning to deliver care, network implementation, planning and optimisation services

Meanwhile, Gartner’s third strand of emerging technologies covers the shift from technical infrastructure to ecosystem-enabling platforms, which will set the foundations for a “revolution” as new business models form a “bridge between humans and technology.” It said key platform-enabling technologies include IoT platforms, Blockchain, software-defined security and quantum computing.

Mike J. Walker, research director at Gartner, said: “These trends illustrate that the more organisations are able to make technology an integral part of their employees’, partners’ and customers’ experience, the more they will be able to connect their ecosystems to platforms in new and dynamic ways. Also, as smart machine technologies continue to evolve, they will become part of the human experience and the digital business ecosystem.”