IBM’s predictions for next five years: everything will learn

A new era of cognitive systems where machines will learn, reason, and engage with us in a more naturalized and personalized way
December 17, 2013

IBM just unveiled its annual 5 in 5 — five predictions about technology innovations that IBM expects will change the way we work, live and play within the next five years.

This year’s IBM 5 in 5 explores the idea that everything will learn — driven by a new era of cognitive systems where machines will learn, reason and engage with us in a more naturalized and personalized way. These innovations are beginning to emerge enabled by cloud computing, big data analytics and learning technologies all coming together, says IBM.

IBM suggests that “over time, these computers will get smarter and more customized through interactions with data, devices and people, helping us take on what may have been seen as unsolvable problems by using all the information that surrounds us and bringing the right insight or suggestion to our fingertips right when it’s most needed. A new era in computing will lead to breakthroughs that will amplify human abilities, assist us in making good choices, look out for us and help us navigate our world in powerful new ways.”

The predictions

The classroom will learn you: The classroom of the future will go from one-size fits all to learning about each student, providing them with a tailored curriculum from kindergarten to high school and on to employment. A system fueled by sophisticated analytics over the cloud will help teachers predict students who are most at risk, their roadblocks, and then suggest measures to help students overcome their challenges so they can master the skills critical to meeting their personal goals in life.

Buying local will beat online: Savvy retailers will use the immediacy of the physical store to create experiences that cannot be replicated by online-only retail. Watson-like technologies and augmented reality will allow physical stores to turn the tables and magnify the digital experience by bringing the web right to where the shopper can physically touch it.

Doctors will use your DNA to keep you well: Computers will help doctors understand how a tumor affects a patient down to the DNA level and present a collective set of medications shown to best attack the cancer, while reducing the time it takes to find the right treatment for a patient from weeks and months and days and even minutes.

A digital guardian will protect you online: Security systems will acquire a 360-degree view of an individual’s data, devices and applications. By learning about you, your context and behavior on various devices, a digital guardian will spot patterns that could be precursors to a cyber attack or a stolen identity and intervene on your behalf while maintaining the privacy of your personal information.

The city will help you live in it: Learning systems, mobile devices and social engagement will create “sentient cities,” understanding in real time how billions of events occur as computers learn to understand what people need, what they like, what they do, and how they move from place to place. Mobile devices and social engagement will enable citizens to strike up relationships with city leaders so their voices will be heard not only on election day, but every day.