Five predictions for the next five years–what will the world transform to in the ever-approaching future?
On December 17 2013, IBM produced five shocking predictions of what technology will bring in the next five years. With how quickly technology has advanced, it’s hard to think beyond what the world already knows. There can be more beyond what we already have?
Dean Takahashi describes in Venturebeat that each innovation IBM proposed will integrate higher-functioning computers than what these past few generations are used to. “These breakthroughs in computing will amplify our human abilities,” he wrote, and will allow computers to engage logically with the user in a “much more natural and personalized way”.
The first prediction involves a promoted classroom–or as IBM describes it, “The classroom will learn you”. Schools will begin using a system based solely on “the cloud” which would collect longitudinal data for teachers about each of their students from kindergarten to grade 12. Institutions would have access to years of personalized information for each individual –how they learn, where their struggles are, and how to best tailor the curriculum to fit each of their needs.
Bernie Meyerson, VP of IBM Innovations, mentioned in Venturebeat, “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.”
Imagine a system where learning disabilities are caught early; a system where outstanding students are scoped out quickly–without the use of standardized tests. Ideally, IBM mentions, high schoolers would be able to tweak the curriculum to benefit their future goals. If one person wished to pursue a career in finance, for example, the teachers could integrate advice from financial companies “to ensure the student is developing skills that would be relevant in the workforce.”
IBM describes the second prediction as ”Buying local will beat online”. Takahashi wrote that Amazon has dominated online retail, which has caused the “normal” stores–the ones we can actually walk around in–to close. Why would anyone drive to a store when they could buy anything and everything they need from the comfort of their own home?
IBM predicts that offline stores will become a combination of “the immediacy of physical shopping with the intelligence of online shopping”. A trip to the store will become much more personalized–shoppers will no longer spend half an hour searching for what they want and the staff would have access to each customer’s sales history, as well as distinct product knowledge available at their fingertips. With all this information, staff will have the capability to better aid the customers.
IBM’s third prediction involves cancer technology–”Doctors will use your DNA to keep you well”. Now, it’s not a cure for cancer, but it will greatly reduce the time it takes to find the best treatment plan for each patient. Using a highly-advanced computer system, doctors could scan the body right down to each cell’s DNA. It will very personally discover which treatment plan will benefit the patient most.
Since 2005, doctors began using this method of treatment, however mapping a person’s entire genome takes time and resources. The process is so intensive that doctors are unable to perform this on everyone, but if the program is released in the next five years doctors could use this method on everyone.
But how does the system process information faster? The program creates a “cognitive system” that is connected to a cloud (similar to the cloud teachers would use). Rather than spending weeks researching medical journals and synthesizing hoards information , doctors would have easy access to the ever growing medical knowledge. As IBM mentions, “The speed of these insights through cognitive systems could save the lives of cancer patients who have no time to lose.”
The fourth prediction involves a “digital guardian [that] will protect you online”. Each guardian would analyze the behavior patterns of the individual person while searching for unusual purchases.
In the year 2012, IBM mentioned that there were over 12 million cases of identity theft in the United States. Modern computers “are designed to recognize only known viruses or known fraudulent activity and typically only look at a single source of data.” These digital watchdogs, however, will have a depth of complexity unseen in standard computers of 2014. They will have the ability to “think” on multiple levels to recognize more complex viruses and unusual behavior.
IBM uses an example to describe this coming software. If the digital guardian notices a purchase of $40 at the gas station and $4000 at a jewelry store, it will immediately throw up a red flag. It will ignore the $40 purchase, for the guardian recognizes that the purchase is normal for that time of week. However, it will question the $4000 purchase but will synchronize personalized information about the user to infer that he has been searching for an engagement ring for some time.
And the last prediction for the next five years–”The city will help you live in it”. Better, faster, and smarter computers will observe the patterns of the community to better improve it. IBM mentioned that by the year 2017, “the number of smart phones in the world is expected to top three billion.”
IBM describes that each citizen’s smartphone will be their “key to the city”. The phones will alert residents of unusual occurrences, such as road construction or streets and sidewalks that have been blocked off. Citizens could also contact their city leaders directly. Each person of the community would have direct input on the issues of their environment.
Buses will also receive information from the technology ingrained in the city. Bus times and routes would be tailored to the residents’ needs. In times of harsh weather, more buses would be available for those citizens stuck in the rain.
And so, what does the future hold? Overall, these predictions merely suggest that highly advanced technology will become a much larger part of this world. It will be integrated throughout people’s lives in such a way that nearly every aspect of life will be improved.