Machine Learning in the Gartner Hype Cycle

Dear Gartner Inc.,

while there is still some time until you publish the 2017 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, I’d like to ask you, to correct a terrible mistake, that you made in the 2016 edition. When you look closely at the summit of the “peak of inflated expectations”, you will find “Machine Learning” (ML) there. You see, I agree with the general progression of the curve, but what you describe here is the world in 1968!

In the late 1960’s, the (western) wold expected way too much from what was then called “Artificial Intelligence”. It was the Cold War, and the US government couldn’t wait to get a machine that understands the Russian language. In the area of cognition, inventions like the perceptron and backpropagation were promising, but too computation intensive for the hardware of the time.

The following phases (“trough of disilluionment” and “slope of enlightenment” in your terms) are, what we like to call the first and second “AI winter” (1970’s – 1990’s). This dark time caused people who still worked on it to change the name of the whole field from “AI” to “Machine Learning”, which probably caused your confusion.

In 2017, Machine Learning is a commodity, which you can buy for pennies in arbitrary amounts at Amazon. Amazon Web Services that is. We are now at a point, that is way out of your chart.

As I see it, we are in a similar situation as in the early 1980’s with PCs: Suddenly John and Jane Doe can access technology that is so powerful, that nations would have waged wars for them, just e few years before. In 2017, organizations either hide their Machine Learning capabilities, or they manage expectations very carefully.

Needless to say, there will of course be some disappointment and disenchantment in some applications of ML, but the field in general will certainly remain as dynamic as it is currently for at least a few decades. And there will be no intermediate down-phase until people (and companies) can take advantage of this technology, to improve products, processes and many other aspects of work and life.

Yours Sincerely

Helmut Hauschild