IBM’s Predictions for the Next Five Years

Every year since 2006, IBM has released a list of five predictions for the next five years. So, what’s on this year’s list? Well, in a quick summary:

  1. Kinetic motion wasted by things like walking or biking will be captured and used to, say, charge your cell phone.
  2. Passwords will be a thing of the past, as multifactor biometrics become the standard security check.
  3. Your cell phone will gain the ability to read your mind, allowing you to call someone just by thinking about calling them.
  4. The digital divide will go by the wayside, as mobile devices become available to even the lowest income bracket.
  5. Junk email will advance to the point where it’s so personalized, it doesn’t even feel like spam anymore.

All this stuff sounds pretty great, but before you get your hopes up for personalized spam, let’s look at some of IBM’s past predictions. The 2006 predictions, the first set they did, should by now have happened. Let’s go to the list:

  1. We will be able to access healthcare remotely, from just about anywhere in the world – No dice. Remote healthcare is becoming more and more mainstream here in the United States, but it’s hardly accessible in from just about anywhere in the lower 48, let alone anywhere in the world.
  2. Real-time speech translation—once a vision only in science fiction—will become the norm – Well, we’ve come a long way, that’s for sure. I can now talk to my cell phone and it can figure out what I want to text to someone half of the time… almost. Has it become the norm? Nope.
  3. There will be a 3-D Internet – What? We can’t even figure out what CSS3 is going to be, let alone “CSS3D.” And I realize that there are some “3D” things out there, but they are really not much more than what 3D movies are, so that doesn’t count.
  4. Technologies the size of a few atoms will address areas of environmental importance – Nanobots? I don’t know what else this could possibly refer to, so I’m going to go with nanobots. Sing along with me here: “Yes, we have no na-no-bots. We have no na-no-bots, today!”
  5. Our mobile phones will start to read our minds – Yea, I’m calling shenanigans on this one. Something they predicted five years ago they predicted again this year! Nice try, IBM.

So, yea, not so good on those ones. In fairness, they did predict in 2007 that Your cell phone will be your wallet, ticket broker, concierge, bank, shopping buddy and more. You could argue that all that is possible now, but take into consideration that this prediction was made the same year the iPhone came out, so it wasn’t that big of a limb they crawled out on. As far as I can tell, that, and You will have your own digital shopping assistants (2008) (which again could be your smartphone and the same thing), I’m not sure any of their predictions have come true.