Next Big Thing – learning computers

In the robot apocalypse, computers will know your fear. In the meantime, they'll know when you can afford to see a film at the cinema

Learning is a good thing, right?

When it comes to smart devices, you may have noticed that they’re not so smart. Intel wants computers and mobiles to be clever enough to know their users and be able to offer up everything they could need. Intel even reckons your device will be able to tell you where you left your car keys.

That’s a little scary…

We’re not quite at the HAL 9000 level of intelligence yet – but Intel's boffins have told Reuters that future gadgets will be able to continually record what we do by 2015. That means they can learn what we want – and even preemptively offer up what we’re looking for. Want to see a film next week? Just ask your phone and it’ll know what sort of films you like – and find something at whatever cinema is closest to you on a given day, based on your calendar. It'll even make sure you go on a deal day if your bank balance is looking low.

How is that even possible?

Right now it’s not. But at the rate computer chips are developing (we have quad-core mobiles now – just over a year after most phones had single-core processors) Intel expects more transistors on a chip than there are connections in the human brain in a decade’s time. That'll mean computers with more senses than humans – and since transistors are faster than slow goey brain connections, we’ll be totally outmatched. Anybody want to put the brakes on? Nah, we don’t either.

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