What does the future of innovation hold? According to IBM’s 8th annual “5 in 5” predictions about the direction of technology, we can all expect to see some drastic changes in our classrooms, online browsing, how we shop and the cities we live in. Not only does IBM make these bold predictions, its goal is to help marshal the changes needed for these to become reality.
“We try to get a sense of where the world is going because that focuses where we put our efforts,” says Bernie Meyerson, vice president of innovation at IBM, to VentureBeat. “The harder part is nailing down what you want to focus on. Unless you stick your neck out and say this is where the world is going, it’s hard to you can turn around and say you will get there first. These are seminal shifts. We want to be there, enabling them.”
IBM’s latest predictions revolve around the idea that machines will start to learn more about us, and get better at reasoning and engaging with us in a more personal and human way. IBM believes these innovations will be enabled by advances in cloud computing, big data and adaptive learning technologies. Computers are becoming smaller and more seamlessly embedded into our everyday lives, and these new technologies will amplify our human abilities rather than replace them.
Here are the five predictions made my IBM for technological advances over the next five years:
1 Adaptive Education
In the future, the classroom will learn you. “Your teacher spends time getting to know you every year,” Meyerson said. “What if they already knew everything about how you learn?” IBM believes teachers could then provide more tailored curriculums from Kindergarten through high school and better understand student risks and roadblocks to help them overcome their learning challenges.
2 Shopping Local
Online retail sales topped $1 trillion last year, and this growth has unfortunately put many brick and mortar retailers out of business as they fail to compete with online retailers like Amazon. Amazon also recently introduced a plan to try and mechanize its delivery service with drones to shorten delivery times. In spite of this, IBM believes that innovations at local physical retailers will bring back to the stores consumers who aren’t trying to wait around for two days to get their goods. One such innovation could involve artificial intelligence that can be used to help people make better decisions at the store. “It has been physical against online,” Meyerson said. “But in this case, it is combining them. What that enables you to do is that mom-and-pop stores can offer the same services as the big online retailers. The tech they have to serve you is as good as anything in online shopping. It is an interesting evolution but it is coming.”
Did you know that global cancer rates are expected to jump by 75% come 2030? IBM predicts computers will allow doctors to use your DNA to keep you well! The ultimate goal is for these personal genomic insights to greatly reduce the time it takes to identify problems and treatments from weeks to minutes! “The ability to correlate a person’s DNA against the results of treatment with a certain protocol could be a huge breakthrough,” Meyerson said. Just yesterday IBM researchers announced the discovery of a nanomedicine used to attack fungi resistant to antibiotics and could end up kicking Athlete’s Foot for good!
4 Digital Guardian
We go to a lot of different sites and have lots of passwords, IDs and devices to juggle. This makes us our identities fragmented and more vulnerable to security risks and hacking bots because of the vast entry points possible to breach. In 2012, 12 million people fell victim to identity fraud. IBM wants us to have a digital guardian that acts as an online watchdog to protect you across all your devices. This guardian would learn about your patterns and online tendencies to quickly identify any suspicious behavior. “In this case, you don’t look for the signature of an attack,” Meyerson said. “It looks at your behavior with a device and spots something anomalous. It screams when there is something out of the norm.”
5 Smart Cities
By 2050, seven out of every 10 people will be urbanized. The only way for this to work is for our cities to become smarter and more responsive in real time. IBM thinks cities that can quickly process what their citizens need, what they are doing and how they are traveling can improve the lives of their people and enhance the flow of commerce. Imagine effortlessly riding around in high-tech driverless cars with virtually no traffic or accidents anymore, or street signs that help citizens identify any potential hazards. IBM also wants to support citizens to publicly communicate with city leaders, like its initiative in Brazil where people can use a mobile crowdsourcing app to report accessibility problems to better help those with disabilities navigate the city streets.
Featured image: IBM director of education transformation, Chalapathy Neti