Computers Will Have Human Senses in 5 Years

February 1, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. input 
[IN-poot(v.) – to put information in computers
Example: My brother inputs his data in the computer through the keyboard.

2. tedious [TEE-dee-uhs, TEE-juhs(adj.) – tiring and taking a very long time
Example: I hate doing tedious tasks such as typing a 1000-word essay.

3. database [DEY-tuh-beys(n.) –  a collection of data
Example: The client’s database contains customer information.

4. software [SAWFT-wair, SOFT-(n.) – a set of programs that tell what the computer should do
Example: I installed new editing software in my computer.

5. breakthrough [BREYK-throo](n.) – a sudden achievement that makes a big impact
Example: Smartphones and tablets are technological breakthroughs.

Read the text below.

IBM (International Business Machines) researchers predict that in the next 5 years computers will have the five human senses.

This report, published in IBM’s yearly forecast on future technologies, says that in the near future, computers will process information like humans do – using the ability to see, hear, smell, touch and taste.

Bernie Meyerson, IBM Vice President of Innovation, said that the computer’s ability to sense could make information less tedious to input. Instead of encoding data into a computer, a person could simply present the data and the computer will process the information using its senses. Meyerson added that with five senses, computers will have the ability not only to sense or process data but also to interpret what these data mean.

The key to this innovation is for computers and humans to have a common language. And current computer functions—such as image and voice recognition—prove that having a common language is possible.

For instance, computers can have the sense of smell and taste by identifying the chemicals present in a certain substance. The human senses also identify chemicals, which help people know if a food is safe to eat.  

Better software could allow computers to interpret what they hear and see using sound and image database stored in the system. Computers might be able to identify a person’s emotion or mood based on the quality of his voice. For the sense of touch, computers would be able to determine different textures using vibrations and temperature.

Meyerson believes that this technological breakthrough could have huge impact in several industries.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Do you think people really need computers that can see, hear, smell, touch, and taste like humans? Why or why not?
·         In your opinion, how will humans react to this kind of technology? Will people easily adapt to it or not?

Discussion B

·         What specific tasks do you want technology to do for you?
·         Do modern technologies make people lazy? Why do you think so?


February 1, 2013