​Man vs. machine circa 2018: A reality check on Gartner's crystal ball

The relationship between people and machines will go from cooperative to co-dependent to competitive in the years ahead. This'll be fun.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor
Credit: Gartner

Gartner's strategic predictions for 2018 and beyond revolved around the relationship between people and machines and how it'll go from cooperative to co-dependent to competitive. Is it just me or does this man machine thing sound like a bad relationship?

Here's a look at Gartner's strategic predictions for the years ahead via analyst Daryl Plummer and some thoughts on what makes sense and what's questionable.

  1. By 2018, 20 percent of all business content will be authored by machines. Reality check: This robo content move is a no-brainer. News organizations are already using robo-writers in select instances and mutual fund reports are largely automated as are those fantasy football recaps.

  2. Six billion connected things will request support by 2018. Plummer said that IT leaders need to view things as customers and work to satisfy "their nonhuman requests." Reality check: This prediction sounds like it came from Salesforce, which is betting on the machine-thing-customer connection. Things requesting support won't be a surprise. Enterprises figuring out to manage these support requests well by 2018 will be surprising.

  3. By 2020, autonomous software agents outside human control will conduct 5 percent of all economic transactions. Reality check: This prediction seems like a slam dunk. Wall Street is mostly moved by algorithms today. Business will follow. Watch for glitches and flash crashes ahead.

  4. 3 million workers will be supervised by a roboboss by 2018. Reality check: The theory here is that humans will focus on creativity, relations and strategic planning. Umm ok. Societal norms as well as politics will likely to put off the roboboss for a few more years.

  5. By the end of 2018, 20 percent of smart buildings will be hit with "digital vandalism." Reality check: Do we really think execs are going to commission algorithms to detect obscenities? No matter what the timing, hackers are going to have fun with smart buildings.

  6. Half of the fastest growing companies will have more smart machines than people by 2018. Reality check: Not surprising, but 50 percent may be a bit too high for that time frame.

  7. By the end of 2018, customer digital assistants will recognize individuals by face and voice on multiple channels. Reality check: Creepy but likely true.

  8. 2 million employees by 2018 will be required to wear health trackers to be employed. Reality check: Welcome to the mid-term election issue of 2018 if true. Biggest question: What's your right to be unhealthy?

  9. By 2020, smart agents will facilitate 40 percent of mobile interactions in the post app era. Reality checks: Virtual personal assistants---Siri, Cortana, Google on Tap---will be huge. Pretty sure Google and Apple aren't going to be thrilled about the post app era and may delay that timing. We've also heard calls for the post app era for years and somehow it hasn't exactly arrived.

  10. Ninety five percent of cloud security failures will be the customer's fault through 2020. Reality check: This prediction is a bit of a layup and Gartner may have wanted to stop at nine.
Editorial standards