Machine Learning Is At The Very Peak Of Its Hype Cycle

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Machine Learning will be Mainstream … Soon.
Machine learning has earned a prestigious honor in its march to technological relevance …
The peak of its hype cycle.
According to the 2016 Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, machine learning is at the very “peak of inflated expectations,” the highest point in the S-curve that Gartner awards technologies in its Hype Cycle reports. 2016 has been full of machine learning and artificial intelligence news as companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Intel and IBM announce and release new tools to take advantage of neural networks that can train computers.
Many machine learning advocates may feel betrayed to think that machine learning is at the peak of its hype cycle, thinking that analysts like Gartner believe machine learning to be all fluff and no substance. But that is not the case. Many emerging technologies never actually make it to the peak of the hype cycle, fizzling out long before they can make a true impact.
In reality, technologies that make it to the peak of the hype cycle are almost ready for universal deployment. Much of the research and development of the technology has already been done and the real implementation (and all the headaches that go with it) is about to begin. That’s why technologies fall from the peak of inflated expectations to “the trough of disillusionment” as developers go through the painful process of tightening the nuts and bolts to make the technology easier to use for the average person or enterprise.
Machine learning will be extremely valuable to enterprises over the next decade thanks to radical computer power and endless data, which will allow companies to adapt quickly to new situations, Gartner said. Immersive experiences such as virtual and augmented reality have already begun a move towards the mainstream, with both consumers and enterprises adopting them within the next five to 10 years.

The Hype Cycle Offers A Glimpse Of The Future

Companies that invest in immersive experiences, smart machines and ecosystem-enabling platforms are likely to have a significant advantage over their rivals in the very near future.
According to Gartner’s Hype Cycle, these are the three key technology trends that enterprises and developers need to succeed (or at least be aware of) in the digital economy. The report is the longest running of Gartner’s annual hype cycles and is considered to be an accurate barometer as to where technology is heading over the next decade or so.
At the same time, the so-called platform revolution will shift the emphasis from a technical infrastructure to a dynamic ecosystem that relies on both internal and external algorithms to drive value, said the report. Companies need to redefine theirbusiness strategies to become more dynamic, especially as emerging technologies are redefining how established platforms are used.
“These trends illustrate that the more organizations 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,” said Gartner research director Mike J. Walker, in a press release. “Also, as smart machine technologies continue to evolve, they will become part of the human experience and the digital business ecosystem.”
All three of the identified trends have been part of the hype cycle for quite some time, so it is not really a surprise to see them featured so prominently in the latest emerging technologies report.
Gartner’s reports concentrate on five phases of development for a given technology, all of which match expectation with time to mainstream adoption.
Source: Gartner, Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, via press release.
The phases are a must-know reference point for companies that are engaged in strategic planning. Some technologies are obviously further developed than others, but all are—in theory—capable of giving companies a competitive advantage, said Gartner.
The phases are as follows:
  • The Innovation Trigger, where the technology moves from the realms of science fiction to a potential reality.
  • Peak of Inflated Expectations, the period when the technology will be the best thing since sliced bread … one day.
  • Trough of Disillusionment, which turns excitement into the realization that the innovation is still a long way off.
  • Slope of Enlightenment, or in other words when the innovation is mature enough to provide real-world business uses.
  • Plateau of Productivity, when the technology is actually mature and being used by companies or industries on a regular basis.
For example, machine learning currently sits at the top of the Peak of Inflated Expectations, with mainstream adoption expected within two to five years. Advances in neural networks and the ubiquitous availability of big data have made machine learning one of the major concepts in IT, so much so that it has the capacity to transform companies, the report said.
And then there is virtual and augmented reality.
The technology has been around for decades but has often veered between the Peak of Inflated Expectations and the Trough of Disillusionment. Over the last year, the landscape has changed dramatically, thanks mainly to the fact that virtual realityexperiences and hardware have started to flow into the consumer world.
The latest hype cycle shows that virtual reality is now firmly ensconced in the Slope of Enlightenment and should reach mainstream adoption in five to 10 years. Augmented reality—which many people consider to be a more viable option—is slowly traversing the trough, with the expectation that this will happen over a similar timeframe.

Why Technology Needs To Be Constantly Tracked

Other sci-fi technologies from the 2015 version of the hype cycle that were on the upward slope—smart dust, human augmentation, brain-computer interface—are at least ten years from maturity, the report said. Autonomous vehicles, which occupied machine learning’s position at the Peak of Inflated Expectations a year ago, have started the slow decline into disillusionment … irrespective of the current bullish attitude of the auto industry.
“To thrive in the digital economy, enterprise architects must continue to work with their CIOs and business leaders to proactively discover emerging technologies that will enable transformational business models for competitive advantage, maximize value through reduction of operating costs, and overcome legal and regulatory hurdles,” said Walker. “This Hype Cycle provides a high-level view of important emerging trends that organizations must track, as well as the specific technologies that must be monitored.”
Courtesy Of ArcApplause
Lead image: “Machine Learning” by Flickr user Thomas HawkCreative Commons.
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