IBM’s Crystal Ball

Posted by John Patrick on

Crystal Ball

Every year, IBM researchers take a look to the future and publish their top five predictions for what we will see five years from now. Take a look at IBM – Smarter Planet – The IBM 5 in 5 for their latest.  The site has a well-done 90 second video to summarize what each of the five predictions is all about. The top-level idea behind this year’s predictions is that everything will learn. IBM envisions a new era of cognitive systems in which machines will “learn, reason and engage with us in a more natural and personalized way”. Each of the five predictions involves a combination of cloud computing, big data analytics, and learning technologies. IBM says that the new era in computing reflected in the five predictions will lead to breakthroughs that will augment human capabilities, help to make good decisions, and even look out for us as we navigate through a digital world.  

Here is my short summary of the five in five:

The classroom will learn you

In today’s classroom, students learn from what is presented to them by the teacher. One size, fits all. In the classroom of the future, the classroom will learn about the skills, needs, and learning modes of the students. The classroom will continually learn and adapt to deliver education tailored to each student.

Buying local will beat online

This one may be the hardest to buy. No pun intended. IBM forsees that the technology trends will move us back to brick and mortar. The difference will be that retailers will be able to personalize the shopping experience and combine it with the instant gratification of physical shopping. Same-day delivery should be a snap.

Doctors will routinely use your DNA to keep you well

DNA testing for individual patients is possible today but extremely time-consuming and costly. IBM envisions how cognitive systems and cloud computing can make DNA testing mainstream within five years. This could include personalized treatment options for patients with various cardiovascular diseases.

A digital guardian will protect you online

IBM says the end of the password is near. Our digital guardians will know who we are and what data, devices, and applications we use. Based on our normal activity our digital guardian will be able to see deviations that might otherwise lead to an attack or stolen identity.

The city will help you live in it

IBM says that the cities we live in will be learning from us. Our smartphones will be our digital keys to the city, but the cities themselves learn what we like and don’t like and will tell us how to get to where we want to go.

The IBM 5 in 5 webpage is worth a visit. I especially like their follow-on page that shows prior predictions going back to 2006 that gives us a chance to evaluate how good their crystal ball is.

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