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Follow up on 2015 Summit Predictions: Humans vs. Machines


As the 12th annual CSOFT Summit rapidly approaches, we here at CSOFT HQ have been taking some time to look back and reflect on the highlights of the previous year’s gathering.  In particular, we are taking a look at the inspiring seminars that taught us what innovation and technology meant, in the modern sharing economy.

One of the most fascinating round-tables hosted at the 2015 Summit, was the panel discussing the benefits and drawbacks of our reliance on technology. Dubbed “The Great Debate: Man vs. Machine”, attendees were given the opportunity to listen to various industry experts debate over the merits of a technological world. Have humans become too reliant on technology? Could some of humanities greatest achievements been accomplished without the helping hand of innovation?A whole year has passed since we answered those questions and we decided what better way to build excitement for the 2016 Summit, than by giving a brief follow up on one of the highlights of the 2015 gathering.

Among the questions raised, a large amount of focus was given to the following points: How long it would take before machines took over human jobs? Can a machine be creative? How does a machine translate human emotion?  The opinions on these topics were unsurprisingly varied and passionate.  So, what has actually happened since that sunny Thursday afternoon?

How long would it take before machines took over human jobs?

To quote author Elbert Hubbard: “one machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men but no machine can do the work of one extraordinary man”.  While inspiring, Hubbard couldn’t have predicted just how much things have changed over the past year. 2015 alone saw a huge increase in machines taking over traditionally human jobs in the medical field, and even the hospitality industry.

Related:  Disruptive So Far: A Look Back at Neural Machine Translation in the Age of Natural Language Processing

Could a machine be creative?

The answer to this question is somewhat open to interpretation. As of 2016, social media websites such as Facebook and Pinterest indicated that tailored ads based on user data accounted for a 25% sale conversion rate. These ads, of course, are placed on a user’s browser by a computer algorithm. Thus, a computer tells you what you want, based on the data you give it. While this is not creativity in the traditional sense, it does demonstrate a machine’s ability to make creative connections between stored data.

How does a machine translate human emotion? 

If the movie ‘Her’ was anything to go by, people are ready to fall in love with their computers, but are our computers ready to love us back?  Currently, AI units at the University of Pittsburgh are learning to treat human depression by analyzing skin movements and facial muscles. These facial recognition tests are leading the industry in linking human emotion with quantifiable AI data.  While it’s still a long way off before these tests will be rendered successful, it seems as if significant AI progress is due for 2016.

There you have it! A year later, and the debate rages on. Join us for more fascinating debates and inspirational lectures at this year’s 12th annual CSOFT Summit located in the city of the future, Shanghai, China!


Written by Patrick Keefe, Technical Writer at CSOFT International

Read more of Patrick Keefe’s blogs

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