IBM Predicts Five Technologies That Will Change the World in the Next Five Years


As the year readies to close out, it’s time for the annual onslaught of year-end lists of best ofs, worst ofs, and 2014 look-aheads. So in due course, IBM has released its annual 5 in 5 annual technology predictions, highlighting what the company thinks will come to the forefront in the next five years. 

“We try to get a sense of where the world is going because that focuses where we put our efforts,” Bernie Meyerson, VP Innovation at IBM, told 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 turn around and say you will get there first. These are seminal shifts. We want to be there, enabling them.”

Among the expected innovations in cloud computing and smarter cities, IBM expects there to be significant changes in the way the medical community treats illness, and how our digital lives are made more secure.

The new list of tech trends and innovations that IBM expects to impact our lives in the years ahead:[more]

1. 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? You’ll be able to pick up problems like dyslexia instantly. If a child has extraordinary abilities, they can be recognized. With 30 kids in a class, a teacher cannot do it themselves. This doesn’t replace them. It allows them to be far more effective.”

2. Buying local will beat online

“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. The store will ask if you would like to see a certain camera and have a salesperson meet you in a certain aisle where it is located.”

3. Doctors will use your DNA to keep you well

“The ability to correlate a person’s DNA against the results of treatment with a certain protocol could be a huge breakthrough,” Meyerson said. “You’ll be able to look at your DNA and find out…magic bullet treatments that will address your particular ailment.”

4. A digital guardian will protect you online

“In this case, you don’t look for the signature of an attack,” Meyerson commented. “It looks at your behavior with a device and spots something anomalous. It screams when there is something out of the norm.”

5.  The city will help you live in it

“IBM’s Smarter Cities program combines sensors in the Web of Things with predictive analytics, so that cities will see problems before they arise,” says Forbes. “So instead of just informing us when traffic jams occur, a traffic report of the future will tell us where they are likely to happen and suggest a different route.”  

Consistent with IBM’s commitment to cognitive computing at an enterprise scale, the company’s focus on smart technologies has already given the world Silicon Germanium chips, relational databases and that brainiac Watson—and earned IBM five Nobel prizes.

“In the next five years, technologies will be scaled down to the consumer level,” says Forbes, adding Meyerson’s comment that “great technology can make an enormous difference. What we’re really aiming for isn’t to predict the future, but to change the future. We want to improve and save lives.”