IBM Predicts Computers That Have Five Senses

IBM Predicts Computers That Have Five Senses

Computers are advancing so quickly, it won’t be long before they develop anthropomorphic qualities. In fact, IBM says that will be sooner rather than later. In its seventh annual IBM 5 in 5 list of upcoming technical innovations, the company describes how a future generation of computers will be able mimic the five human senses. By 2018, IBM predicts computers will be “trained,” not programmed, to experience touch, sight, hearing taste and smell.

Processing sights and sounds requires eyes, ears and, most important, a brain—right? But what if your hardware shared your senses,” IBM asked at 5 in 5, which assesses five technologies expected to impact the world in the next five years.

Computers imitate brain functions in a process called cognitive computing. IBM predicts within five years, users will be able to “feel” different textures through their touchscreens, and computers will understand what they “see”—assisting doctors in identifying disease.

Apple Daily Report says “By being trained to discriminate what to look for in images — such as differentiating healthy from diseased tissue — and correlating that with patient records and scientific literature, systems that can “see” will help doctors detect medical problems with far greater speed and accuracy.

Cognitive programming has already emerged in some products, including Apple’s Siri technology that allows an iPhone to hear and understand what is being said to it, and Google Goggles that identify objects.

IBM scientists around the world are collaborating on advances that will help computers make sense of the world around them,” Bernie Meyerson, IBM Fellow and vice president of Innovation, said. “Just as the human brain relies on interacting with the world using multiple senses, by bringing combinations of these breakthroughs together, cognitive systems will bring even greater value and insights, helping us solve some of the most complicated challenges.

IBM outlined some additional uses for cognitive programming, including a computer programmed to analyze smells and biomarkers in a patient’s breath that can help doctor’s diagnose liver and kidney disorders, as well as asthma, diabetes and epilepsy.

Soon, sensors will detect and distinguish odors: a chemical, a biomarker, even molecules in the breath that affect personal health. The same smell technology, combined with deep learning systems, could troubleshoot operating-room hygiene, crops’ soil conditions or a city’s sanitation system before the human nose knows there’s a problem,” the group said.

[Image via Shutterstock]

Samantha Lile