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AI Robotics Technology

Replacement of Writers Leads Gartner's Predictions (computerworld.com) 113

dcblogs writes: Gartner's near-future predictions include: Writers will be replaced. By 2018, 20% of all business content, one in five of the documents you read, will be authored by a machine. By 2018, 2 million employees will be required to wear health and fitness tracking devices as a condition of employment. This may seem Orwellian, but certain jobs require people to be fit, such as public safety workers. By 2020, smart agents will facilitate 40% of mobile interactions. This is based on the belief that the world is moving to a post-app era, where assistants such as Apple's Siri act as a type of universal interface.
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Replacement of Writers Leads Gartner's Predictions

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  • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Sunday October 11, 2015 @02:22AM (#50702423)

    And let's not forget the flying cars.

    • by KGIII ( 973947 )

      I don't think Gartner is usually correct. It may be my search terms but I've not been able to find out how often their predictions actually come true or anything like that. I think that might actually make an interesting study. It doesn't seem like it would be all that difficult to compile the data though I'm not sure how well the companies would go along with this and to what extent they'd be helpful.

      • Gartner predicted the fall of Linux during the SCO days...

        • by KGIII ( 973947 )

          kgiii@kgiii-laptop-6:~$ uname -a
          Linux kgiii-laptop-6 3.19.0-30-generic #34-Ubuntu SMP Fri Oct 2 22:08:41 UTC 2015 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux
          kgiii@kgiii-laptop-6:~$

          Yup, they got that one right too! ;-)

          (Technically it's Lubuntu but it lies to me.)

  • one in five of the documents you read, will be authored by a machine.

    If you count spam, that's already true. Bots mutate and reshuffle the words to get past spam filters.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Note that they say "business content". It's not even an ambitious prediction. Many businesses have strict reporting requirements by law. These documents are already often automatically generated from data. Have you stumbled upon "reviews" of computer hardware on spam web pages where "someone" put the list of specs in text form? Same thing.

      • I spend a lot of time reading computer-generated API documentation already.

        If the spammers catch up with the 90s, I'll be impressed. Well, not really, because I run ad blockers and won't know. But if I did!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 11, 2015 @02:40AM (#50702489)

    Things will progress at roughly the rate they've been progressing. In 3 years, things will look basically the same. Some of these things may start to come true, or be in trial stages, mostly though it's nonsense.

    Robobosses will not be a thing. Management as a discipline is not strongly defined. First you have to get executives to widely agree that there is a set method to manage appropriately, at which point you would be able to legitimately evaluate managers. If you've noticed we're nowhere near that happening, you'll realize it won't be automated within 3 years.

    Smart agents show few signs of catching on. Surveys everywhere show Siri is barely being used and even those who use it give up on it frequently.

    What they refer to as "smart machines" sound like little more than the automation of metric gathering.

    I'm tired of reading these stories. Where's the flying cars? Personal space travel for all?

    Most of the "amazing" technology we've gotten recently is just a refinement of things we've been working on for 30-40 years. Internet of things? Electric cars? Smart decision systems? It's all been around for decades.

    Captcha: Marketed

  • by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @02:46AM (#50702513)

    Do Gartner projections turn out to be accurate? How accurate? How often?

  • by Todd Knarr ( 15451 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @02:58AM (#50702549) Homepage

    The kind of document Gartner's talking about isn't the kind that's written, it's the kind that's transcribed from facts with some formatting applied. As the article says, it's sports scores and budget reports and such. It's the kind of stuff I call "boilerplate" and write scripts to handle, eg. to take a small input file with the information defining a C++ class ("This is the class name, these are the data members and their types.") and spit out a properly-formatted C++ class definition complete with all the constructors, assignment operator and standard methods needed (which is oftentimes 2 orders of magnitude bigger than the input file). Actual creative writing, the kind that requires coming up with the information to put into the document, is in no danger of being replaced any time soon.

  • by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @03:06AM (#50702579) Homepage Journal

    Flawless AI in 5 years to drive those "intelligent" agents?

    Yeah, right.

    They've been predicting "hard" AI within 20 years for about 35 years now...

    • It's possible - you don't really need to make the AI any smarter if you can just make the "consumers" dumber instead.
      • It's possible - you don't really need to make the AI any smarter if you can just make the "consumers" dumber instead.

        But if you make them any dumber, we'll need shoe-typing robots... Oh, I get it, it's a robot construction jobs program.

      • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @09:39AM (#50703599)

        It's possible - you don't really need to make the AI any smarter if you can just make the "consumers" dumber instead.

        That's funny. And it's actually one of TFA's predictions:

        By 2018, 50% of the fastest-growing companies will have fewer smart employees than instances of smart machines. These machines are easy to replicate and there will be a lot more of them.

        One way to read this is that the machines will be easier to replicate. Another way to read this prediction is that companies will just stop paying a premium to hire smart people and just listen to dumb "smart" machines instead, while hiring a bunch of mindless worker drones. Actually, that's what TFA goes on to imply:

        Smart systems, for example, will be analyzing how a factory is being run, or deciding whether people are completing a task at an appropriate speed.

        So in other words, all we're left with is a bunch of mindless "factory" workers "completing a task" within an allotted time, and their mechanical overloads. I guess we're going to replace most mid-level management with "smart machines" to make ridiculous decisions about efficiency on the basis of bad metrics? I suppose it can't be much worse than current management practice at many companies.

      • It's possible - you don't really need to make the AI any smarter if you can just make the "consumers" dumber instead.

        That seems to be the current trend. Just feed 'em enough reality shows and constant photo essays of Kim Kardashian's ass and pretty soon IQs will start to drop below room temperature*. Mission accomplished!

        -

        *some say this has already happened

    • " They've been predicting "hard" AI within 20 years for about 35 years now.."

      I predict that AI has always been hard :-)

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      As I always say, "prove it" to that prediction.

  • by InfiniteLoopCounter ( 1355173 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @03:14AM (#50702619)

    Will this apply to /. summaries (sometimes you wonder here) and news articles in general? If so, I for one welcome our robot overlords and do not believe for a second the claims of bias just because of that one article suggesting all humans are oxygen-breathing weaklings that should be mined for material serving the needs of robots.

  • copyright (Score:1, Interesting)

    by roman_mir ( 125474 )

    If we assume for a femtosecond that this actually happens and content is produced by robots, then what happens to the copyright on that content? The government provides monopoly on copyright for how long, the life of the writer plus 50 or 70 years or some such... what happens if the writer is a machine?

    They are talking about business documents, whatever, but what if a machine produces fiction for example?

    My position is of-course that government must not be in any form of business, including business of pro

  • by Anonymous Coward

    With positions like public safety workers (thinking firemen & EMTs for example), yes their jobs require them to be fit. The kind of people who work these jobs are already aware of it, are already fit enough for the job, and already care enough to stay fit (not to mention regular testing before & during employment). They don't need a machine to monitor them 24/7 or even the length of their working day. Just the beginning of the slippery slope. It's bad enough with taxis & other drivers having GPS

  • It's obvious that they produce completely formulaic material, so even with existing technology it should be a snap. Something at the level of ELIZA [wikipedia.org] should be enough.

    Or for a more human touch all you need is some typewriters and some monkeys.

  • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @04:40AM (#50702815) Homepage

    Gartner's near-future predictions include: Writers will be replaced. By 2018, 20% of all business content

    So a) whose going to "write" the other 80% of business content, if not "writers"? and b) people who create business documents are not "writers."

  • This may just be me, but audio seems far from the best interface

    • This may just be me, but audio seems far from the best interface

      Yeah, it has a hell of a time with deaf people. If you think that's bad, try using a capacitive touch screen with a Bock's hand prosthesis.

      A lot of the "natural" interfacing we are tending toward today disenfranchises those with disabilities.

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        ...

        What's this? I don't even...

        And illiterate people are disenfranchised by books with words. Blind people are disenfranchised so don't go to movies...

        No, not all advances will suit all people. Don't cripple the rest to make it accessible to those who can't. Let's not tear down the mountains because they can't be climbed by fat people.

        Okay, so I'm only sort of guessing where you were going with that. However, no... No you shouldn't slow down progress because some can't keep up. For some reason my 'touch' do

        • No, not all advances will suit all people. Don't cripple the rest to make it accessible to those who can't. Let's not tear down the mountains because they can't be climbed by fat people.

          Okay, so I'm only sort of guessing where you were going with that. However, no... No you shouldn't slow down progress because some can't keep up. For some reason my 'touch' doesn't seem to work well on most every touch screen. I accept that.

          Bad guess, dude.

          There's a difference between being *able to* engage certain sensory and motor systems in order to interact with our devices, and *requiring us to* engage certain sensory and motor systems in order to do so.

          P.S.: I came up with a "fix" for the capacitive coupling problem and posted it to a prosthetics forum, rather than being an asshole and patenting it. Numerous people have thanked me for it being the first time they've ever been able to use a trackpad (and so on).

          • by KGIII ( 973947 )

            That's good, what was your fix?

            • That's good, what was your fix?

              The primary mechanism for capacitive coupling is a voltage differential from a charge on one side of the pad, and a sink on the other. The trick is that this is not a simple ground mechanism, it's a dispersion. In other words, the meat and ion containing water in the body act as an antennae.

              The fix is to implement the same type of dispersion to couple the other pole of the capacitor. So what you do is embed a conductive mesh below the surface in the "skin" glove of the prosthetic, and attach it to an ant

              • by KGIII ( 973947 )

                Very interesting, thanks. And I'm glad my guess was wrong. I'd read posts from you before and you'd seemed fairly normal so I was confused.

                Hmm... I'm not home or I'd give you the output readings from a multimeter. I don't have a lot of volts being output - very few. I don't recall the numbers. But, I'll try to go down the list and see what happens when I "think aloud."

                I am reasonably healthy - I see a doctor on a regular basis and have had most things checked.
                I drink a lot of Gatorade. I'm not sure if that

                • Overdoing on magnesium can lead to low potassium levels. I assume you get checked, if you get liver panels.

                  If a stylus works for you ... the general principle of a stylus is that it act as a point source, but still uses the meat-person as the antenna, by having a conductive area attached (usually including a coil) to the tip of the stylus.

                  This is actually why the stylus was not an option for either the robot, or the person with the prosthetic lower arms and hands (the initial test subject had lost both han

                  • by KGIII ( 973947 )

                    I bet you nailed it. I have nimble little fingers BUT I've been playing guitar for a lot of years. I assume it's the greater skin area (and perhaps EM field) that makes the stylus work better. But I bet it's the calluses. I'm going to try hitting them with an emery board and seeing what happens if I take some of the skin off. I used to emery board them back in the day to get them to grow even more callused.

                    Slashdot, helping people with the most inane problems since 1997. ;) Thanks. I'll try it and have a go

  • by bytesex ( 112972 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @05:02AM (#50702889) Homepage

    When 1) complex computer programs become mathematically provable, and 2) computer languages become complex enough to convey proper meaning, then writing becomes obsolete (because documentation will just be a question of running the program through the checker). And not before, in my neck of the woods. Oh, and the solving of both issues is a lot further away than 2020 by any estimate.

  • Really? (Score:5, Informative)

    by ledow ( 319597 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @07:00AM (#50703167) Homepage

    Because voice recognition - just for starters - hasn't come on much in the last twenty years.

    Last time I used Siri (which was only a few months ago), I asked it a simple question and it just sat there baffled. I spent twenty minutes trying all kinds of simplification, better pronunciations, and rewording but still it wasn't able to fathom anything useful from it. No, I don't have a strong accent (but what the fuck should that matter anyway?) and no I wasn't in a room full of noise (but - again - are we going to have to go outside and find a quiet spot to get these things to work in the future).

    Apart from where there are obvious detectable keywords that they can make up the rest of the query around, these things are SHIT, and always have been.

    I work in schools, I've dealt with a number of teachers and "learning support specialists" who hear that there is a voice recognition software, who then insist we need to use it for those children unable to write properly, and then trial it and discover just how useless it is - especially if the child already has even the most minor of communications problems too - and then realise what a waste of time it is.

    One teacher I know wanted to write all their school reports using voice recognition because they were sold how wonderful it was by some guy paid to train them. Yeah, in a silent hall, using his exact phrasing, it seemed to work. Ten times slower than typing, but the demo was nice. However, you've not saved time or effort, you still have to double-check everything before it goes out (and inevitably on a computer because the devices aren't even close to being able to be controlled by voice - "Oh, no, change that word elephant to giraffe, please") and the accuracy in any real-world environment or using anything other than very basic phrasing SUCKED. I laughed when they told me that's how they wanted to write their reports - hundreds of them each per member of staff within a one-week window. The technology is honestly that bad.

    And the rest is just bollocks of the highest order.

    • Your account reminded me of this little sketch. [youtube.com]

      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Your account reminded me of this little sketch. [youtube.com]

        Aye, well..

        I once opened a storage cupboard in a comms room, found 25 copies of a well known voice recognition package, 20 unopened, 5 opened.(you probably see where this is going..)
        The story I got was, one bright spark though this would be a good idea after seeing it demonstrated on a BBC program, so went and splurged the monies out for the 25 copies. Only then did they do a trial install, setting up 5 copies with 5 victims. It was only then that they found out, to put it mildly, the software had real issu

        • by KGIII ( 973947 )

          You should have found the manager who purchased it (or the vendor that provisioned it) and given them a mighty Scottish Kiss.

          Oy, I didnae think ye fookin' larned yar lesson lad! Hares a bloody fookin' kiss fer ya ta remember me by - call't yer fookin' homework. *crunch*

    • Because voice recognition - just for starters - hasn't come on much in the last twenty years.

      Huh? Did you actually use voice recognition 20 years ago?

      I still remember the first time I tried a voice recognition program -- sometime around 1990. It had a VERY limited vocabulary. It required hours and hours of training even to recognize that for a particular speaker. Additional words could be trained, but it was annoying... and the thing just didn't work, despite the claims that it would make your life so much easier. That was 25 years ago.

      I remember 10 years ago when I got a convertible ultra

      • Just to be clear -- I wasn't praising Siri's ability (or any other system's ability) to comprehend anything. The AI for being able to deal with real-world language and intelligent response is still likely a long way off, despite periodic predictions that good AI will be arriving soon.

        But basic speech recognition? My Google tablet makes fewer errors when I dictate than when I manually input text on an Apple device and it helpfully "autocorrects" my correct text to say things I didn't want to.

        Maybe that

      • Then I bought a Nexus tablet last year. I saw Google's advertisement about its voice recognition. I tried it and dictated a couple paragraphs of text FLAWLESSLY -- with no training, even got a number of proper names and such correct.

        Your experience is different from mine. I worked for a software distributor in the late 90's so had access to pretty much any commercial software on the market. I grabbed a copy of the top of the range product (might have been Dragon - my memory isn't so good) and it was shit.
        Fast Forward to 2015 and we have the latest and greatest Android and iOS devices in our house, and although better than 1995, are unusable due to the high error rate.
        Maybe you have a good speaking voice, and have the same accent as t

      • In the 1980s, IBM was doing commercials with "Write Mrs. Wright right away" being speech-processed, apparently by the PC sitting behind the woman saying the words.

        I read a paper on it later. It used three workstations, a small mainframe, and a baby supercomputer to do the actual processing, and the PC was there as the UI. The other computers were not apparent in the commercial. That explains why it never got released as a PC program.

        The head of the lab developing this system (which was innovative at

  • by c ( 8461 )

    Writers will be replaced. By 2018, 20% of all business content, one in five of the documents you read, will be authored by a machine.

    That's because about 50% of business documents aren't written so much as compiled, rehashed or, in the case of most press releases, randomized from a buzzword bingo card.

  • by Gim Tom ( 716904 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @09:43AM (#50703621)
    For over 20 years I would carefully study the prognostications that Gartner made and then try my best to convince the suits to do the opposite. My biggest failure in doing so was when my organization went completely Token-Ring and OS2. My best assignment ever came only a few years latter when I was given the task to rip it all out and replace it with Ethernet and a mix of Linux and Windows servers.
  • The usa needs universal health care now before more and more people are automated out of jobs.

    The plan B system of useing jails / prison as your Hospitals of Last Resort costs way to much and can lead to real criminals getting out early due to overcrowding.

    • bullshit, we just don't pay for the freeloaders at all. they'll find gainful employment or starve and die. I don't appreciate people like you taking money out of my pocket, I need to support my family with that, not parasites.

  • The funny part is that these robo-generated documents will be put on the web where they'll be read by other bots scanning for stories.

    So the stories written by robots will mostly be read by other robots, in an endless cycle of circle-jerk robo-journalism.

  • ... then you know it's a load of manure.

    Check out some of their other predictions: [cioinsight.com]

    by 2015 a G20 nation will see its critical infrastructure disrupted by online sabotage. Nope, wrong; didn't happen. I suppose there are still a couple of months left... :)

    By 2015, automation will cut 25 percent of IT labor hours. No, don't think that's happened.

    And the ones they got right or mostly-right were timid and obvious predictions anyway.

  • Isn't much of a prediction since it's already happening. You're just writing a bunch of fluff around data (sports statistics or biz reports) so it's not hard to write a program to generate that. Writing Teachers are going the way of the dodo too since we can write algorithms that know good writing from bad. Maybe not great writing, but the schools aren't interested in artists, their interested in generating little balls of profit for the 1%.

    I hate to be the one yelling "wake up sheeple!" but seriously,

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