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Today IBM unveiled its eighth annual "IBM 5 in 5" (#ibm5in5) — a list of innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live and interact during the next five years, and the tech company’s role in making them a reality.
IBM says over time computers will get smarter and more customized through interactions with data, devices and people, helping us take on problems previously thought unsolvable by using all the information that surrounds us and bringing solutions to our fingertips. The tech giant predicts this new era in computing will lead to breakthroughs that will amplify human abilities and guide us in numerous and powerful new ways.
“We know more now than any other generation at any time has known. And yet, we struggle to keep up with this flood of increasingly complex information, let alone make sense of the meaning that is inherent in the massive amounts of data we are acquiring at ever faster rates,” said Dr. Dario Gil, Director of the Cognitive Experience Lab, IBM. “By creating technology that is explicitly designed to learn and enhance our cognition we will usher in a new era of progress for both individuals and for society at large.”
IBM compiles its 5 in 5 based on market and societal trends as well as emerging technologies from IBM’s Research labs around the world that can make these transformations possible.
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Here are the five predictions that will define the future and impact us at a personal level:
What if education better enabled students to master the skills critical to meeting their personal goals?
IBM predicts the classroom of the future will give educators the tools to learn about every student and provide them with a tailored curriculum from kindergarten through to employment. In the next five years, IBM says the classroom will learn about each student using longitudinal data such as test scores, attendance and behavior on e-learning platforms, not just aptitude tests. Analytics delivered over the cloud will provide decision support to teachers so they can predict students who are most at risk and their roadblocks, and then suggest measures to help students conquer challenges based on their individual learning style.
IBM is already getting to work in the classroom. In a pioneering pilot project with Gwinnett County Public Schools in Georgia, IBM will leverage big data analytics and learning technologies for population analysis of longitudinal student records to predict performance and learning needs, align content and teaching techniques to improve outcomes for each of the district’s 170,000 students, and ultimately increase the district's graduation rate.
Shopping online has become a national pasttime. Online stores currently have an advantage in their ability to learn from the choices we make on the web. Today, most physical stores are limited to the insights they can gain at the point of sale. In five years, IBM says new innovations will help level the playing field for local retailers, who will be able to use the immediacy of the store and proximity to customers to create experiences that cannot be replicated online.
In five years, new Watson-like technologies could educate sales associates about every product in the store. With technologies such as augmented reality and IBM's recently announced plan to open Watson as an app-development platform, the company is providing shoppers with better in-store browsing and buying experiences.
As mobile devices supported by cloud computing enable individuals to share their preferences, their health or nutritional needs and social networks, retailers will soon be able to accurately anticipate shoppers’ wants and needs. As a result, stores will become immersive destinations with experiences customized for each individual. And given their proximity, stores will be able to offer a variety of fast pick-up or delivery options, wherever the customer is, making two-day shipping feel like snail mail.
Despite tremendous advances in research and treatment, the incidence of cancer has risen more than 10 percent since 2008, striking more than 14 million patients and claiming the lives of 8.1 million every year around the world. Imagine if treatment could be more specific and precise — where computers could help doctors understand how a tumor affects a patient down to his or her DNA and present a collective set of medications shown to best attack the cancer.
Cancer care personalized right down to a genomic level has been on the horizon since scientists first sequenced the human genome, but few clinicians have access to the tools and time to assess the insights available at this level. Within five years, cloud-based cognitive systems could make such personalized medicine available at a scale and speed never before possible. Advances in big data analytics and cloud-based cognitive systems coupled with breakthroughs in genomic research and testing could help doctors to accurately diagnose cancer and create personalized cancer treatment plans for millions of patients around the world. Smart machines will take the output of full genome sequencing and scour vast repositories of medical records and publications to learn and quickly provide specific and actionable insights on treatment options for oncologists.
IBM is beginning to explore this opportunity, working with health care partners to develop systems that could deliver genomic insights and reduce the time it takes to find the right treatment for a patient from weeks and months to days and minutes.
Today we have more IDs and devices than ever before, yet security is highly fragmented, leaving us vulnerable: In 2012 there were more than 12 million victims of identity fraud in the U.S. Traditional approaches to security — passwords, anti-virus software or firewalls — fall short as they are designed to recognize only known viruses or known fraudulent activity and typically only look at a single source of data.
In the future, security will become more agile and contextual with 360-degree data, devices and applications, ready to spot deviations that could be indicate an attack or a stolen identity. In five years, IBM says each of us could be protected with our own digital guardian that will offer a new level of identity-theft protection, assimilating contextual, situational and historical data to verify a person’s identity on different devices. By learning about users, a digital guardian can make inferences about what’s normal or reasonable activity. Today, IBM scientists are using machine-learning technologies to understand the behaviors of mobile devices on a network in order to assess potential risk.
Projections indicate that by 2030, the towns and cities of the developing world will make up 80 percent of urban humanity and by 2050, seven out of every 10 people will be a city dweller.
In five years, as computers learn to understand people’s needs, preferences and behaviors, smarter cities will understand in real time how billions of events occur. Soon it will be possible for cities and their leaders to access and digest new information provided by citizens, knowing which city resources are needed, where and when, so the city can dynamically optimize around the needs of the citizens.
This concept is already in motion: For example, in Brazil, IBM researchers are working on a crowdsourcing tool that allows users to report accessibility problems, via their mobile phones, to help people with disabilities better navigate challenges in urban streets. And in Uganda, UNICEF is collaborating with IBM on a social engagement tool that lets youth communicate with their government and community leaders on issues affecting their lives. These types of tools will become commonplace in helping city leaders identify trending concerns or urgent matters and immediately take action where needed.
IBM isn't the only company taking advantage of big data to further its positive impacts: Analytics experts in Ford's Research and Innovation Center are building complex mathematical models that are helping the automaker sharpen its competitive edge while limiting its environmental impact; BT used analytics to highlight carbon hotspot areas throughout its supply chain, revealing business opportunities for reducing costs and carbon; and last month, UPS announced the launch of its ORION route-optimization software, which the company expects will save more than 1.5 million gallons of fuel and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 14,000 metric tons by the end of the year.
Published Dec 17, 2013 5pm EST / 2pm PST / 10pm GMT / 11pm CET