The Future of Computers…..

Like me, I guess a lot of people wonder what could be the next in Computers….What changes the next generation computers will bring?How they will look like?Will they be more faster, more economical or will be superior in Artificial Intelligence?

While going through the newspaper “Times of India”today, I came very close to getting my answer. The Editorial Column today spoke of “MOOD SYNTHESIZER”.

A prototype system developed at the University of Cambridge which is scheduled to be unveiled at a Royal Society exhibition in London will be able to read people’s minds by analysing facial expressions. The “emotionally aware” computer as it’s being called is capable of locating and tracking up to 24 different feature points like the edge of the nose, the eyebrows and the corners of the mouth. Different combinations of movements involving these such as a nod or shake of the head or a lip curl, smile or raised eyebrows which are linked to underlying emotions are then fed into software and used to detect the same facial combinations in real-life situations. The system can also cope and adjust to variations in people’s facial composition. For example, it can recognise the same emotion even if the face is round or thin or sporting a beard or moustache or even wearing glasses. What it can’t do right now is differentiate between small variations in the way people express the same emotion. But according to Peter Robinson, professor of computer technology at Cambridge, they are in the process of fine-tuning the programming so that it will be able to overcome this limitation too.

So what applications would such a computer have? For starters it could enable websites to tailor ads to a person’s moods. Software attached to a webcam on a PC would process the user’s image to pick the right emotional moment to target products. The technology could also be used in cars to improve driver safety by monitoring facial movement to identify complex expressions linked to confusion, boredom or tiredness and instigate appropriate action. However, for some people the development has raised the question of personal privacy all over again. For, whereas one can always shut or cover the camera on one’s own computer, the same would not be possible on other devices where the technology would surely be incorporated in next to no time. Secretly photographing someone with a mobile phone is bad enough; surreptitiously checking out the emotional state of a date, colleague or spouse and taking advantage of that might be worse. Unless properly regulated it could, in fact, constitute yet another intrusion into people’s private lives.

Provided used properly, such innovative ideas can give a great new dimension to the field of computers. Now the question arises—-Can we make a physically-handicapped human being a normal human being with the help of computers in future? Can we make blind people see? Can we make dumb people talk? Can we make deaf people listen? These are some of the questions that I feel the present IT Researchers and professionals should start thinking and this is where we can really say, IT and new Computer Generation has contributed something to the mankind.

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