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IBM's Five Predictions For the Next Five Years 219

PolygamousRanchKid writes "In each of the past five years, IBM has come up with a list of five innovations it believes will become popular within five years. In this, the sixth year, IBM has come up with the following technologies it thinks will gain traction: (1) People power will come to life. Advances in technology will allow us to trap the kinetic energy generated (and wasted) from walking, jogging, bicycling, and even from water flowing through pipes. (2) You will never need a password again. Biometrics will finally replace the password and thus redefine the word 'hack.' (3) Mind reading is no longer science fiction. Scientists are working on headsets with sensors that can read brain activity and recognize facial expressions, excitement, and more without needing any physical inputs from the wearer. (4) The digital divide will cease to exist. Mobile phones will make it easy for even the poorest of poor to get connected. (5) Junk mail will become priority mail. "In five years, unsolicited advertisements may feel so personalized and relevant it may seem that spam is dead."
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IBM's Five Predictions For the Next Five Years

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  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @11:19AM (#38434838)

    ...has no vision

    Here are their predictions from five years ago (all the wonderful things we are supposed to have today):

    We will be able to access health care remotely, from just about anywhere in the world.

    Not even close

    Real-time speech translation—once a vision only in science fiction—will become the norm.

    Some advances have been made, but nope

    There will be a 3D Internet.


    Technologies the size of a few atoms will address areas of environmental importance.

    Wow, not even sure what the fuck that was SUPPOSED to be about. Nanotech maybe??

    Our mobile phones will start to read our minds.

    God help us.

  • by pauljlucas ( 529435 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @11:20AM (#38434854) Homepage Journal

    In five years, unsolicited advertisements may feel so personalized and relevant it may seem that spam is dead.

    I don't care how personalized it is: it's still unsolicited and I don't want it in my in-box. Even if the mail is advertising something I'm interested in, unless I'm actually in the market to buy a new one (which is rare), I'll consider it spam.

  • Biometrics? Pass. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @11:20AM (#38434860) Homepage Journal

    Biometrics are a terrible idea. They can't be changed. That means that as soon as somebody lifts your fingerprint off that class, you're 0wn3d. Forever. Sorry, but biometrics are to proper security what the TSA is to proper security—a lot of flashy show with no real function—a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

    Thanks, but no thanks. Maybe as a fairly weak second factor, but not as a replacement for passwords. A more reasonable solution would be a chip-and-pin scheme in which you enter the pin on the (very simple, hard-to-hack) card rather than on the reader, so that the reader is just a dumb device that passes the authentication request through to a backend server and receives an authorization token a la Kerberos.

  • by g0bshiTe ( 596213 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @11:22AM (#38434880)

    (5) Junk mail will become priority mail. "In five years, unsolicited advertisements may feel so personalized and relevant it may seem that spam is dead."

    Any unsolicited mail will always be spam no matter how personal and relevant it is.

  • by ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @11:24AM (#38434904) Journal

    Yeah, unless the spammers figure out how to turn the 10-20% of the population who aren't sheeple into sheeple, #5 isn't coming true, at least not for the whole population.

    What about #2, was I the only one who winced, reading that?

  • by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @11:25AM (#38434924)
    Thank you. I opened up the comments to ask how their predictions for the last 5 years went. Something I always look for in an article about someone's predictions for the future is how did they do in the past at predicting the future. Unfortunately, most such articles never bother to tell you that the "prophet" they are quoting is not better than random at predictiing the future. If the source they are got one big thing right, they will tout that, but never mention that that one thing was one out of 100 and the other 99 weren't even close.
  • There is NO WAY that spam will ever be personalized enough to make it become priority mail. Spam that is that personalized is going to be perceived as CREEPY. Of course, IBM would like that, because IBM will make $$$ selling services to make spam creepy^Wpersonalized.

    No passwords in 5 years? Maybe in 15 - 20, but it's not like all the computers that use passwords are suddenly going to disappear in 5 years. Besides, one of the advantages of a password is you can give it to someone else. What good are biometrics if you're sitting in the hospital after losing a hand? Or retinal scans after you've had laser retinal photocoagulation to remove the "distinctive pattern of veins" on your retina? Or if you're going to be away on vacation for a week, and you want someone else to log in for you?

    In other words, passwords will always be around. But IBM would like that, because IBM will make $$$ selling services to make it more inconvenient for you to get things done^W^W^W^W^W^W^Wmore convenient most of the time, and then pay big $$$$ for the edge cases.

  • by milbournosphere ( 1273186 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @11:27AM (#38434942)

    (5) Junk mail will become priority mail. "In five years, unsolicited advertisements may feel so personalized and relevant it may seem that spam is dead."

    It'll still be crap that's stuffing my mailbox, I'll still use it as kindling, and it'll still exist only to keep the USPS in business. The only way I'd even bother looking at junk mail would be if it screamed as I threw it into the fire.

  • by Natales ( 182136 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @11:34AM (#38435072)
    The problem is that many of these things are potentially possible, but they are presented from the pure technology perspective without considering the social and political aspects that at the end are the ones with the real influence.

    Think about TCP/IP in general. With the power of todays computers, even cell phones, the world should have evolved into an Internet architecture that was purely P2P based. Everything could have been a real cloud of distributed processing and information sharing. But that would have been disruptive, and any technology that would sufficiently threaten the establishment, and in particular the ones with serious money, will be fought back in the form of regulation or in more subtle ways, such as a slight bending of their direction. ADSL was one of those cases, where by empowering a download speed substantially higher than uploads, it literally steered the way technology developed, from all nodes being equal, to nodes becoming consumers, while other becoming servers.
  • by somersault ( 912633 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @11:40AM (#38435154) Homepage Journal

    I was thinking the advantage of passwords or physical tokens is that they aren't tied to your body too, but for a different reason. Not so that you share them with friends, but so that nobody chops off your body parts just to access your stuff. People have had their finger chopped off [] just so that someone can steal their fingerprint-scanning car.

    What's more important to you, your finger or your car? Considering replacing the car just requires an insurance claim..

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @11:41AM (#38435178)

    Actually, I do have a prediction about the future:

    Five years from now, somewhere in America, a teenage girl will argue fiercely with her mother over her new boyfriend. Her mother will warn the girl that he is no good. The girl will contend that the mother doesn't appreciate how great he is or how real their love is. Later the girl will complain to both her best friend and the boyfriend in question about how her mother is a bitch who doesn't understand that she and her boyfriend they are meant to be together forever.

  • True futurists (Score:5, Insightful)

    by harperska ( 1376103 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @11:55AM (#38435384)

    People who truly have an accurate vision of the future don't make silly public predictions or videos [] about where they think technology will be in 5 years. They work in secret in labs at places like Google or Apple making said future actually happen so that in 5 years they can sell it to you.

  • by j-turkey ( 187775 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @12:01PM (#38435508) Homepage
    Bruce Schneier said it better than I can. []

    Biometrics are unique identifiers, but they are not secrets. You leave your fingerprints on everything you touch, and your iris patterns can be observed anywhere you look.

    Authenticating with biometrics is little better than using social security numbers. They are both unique identifiers, but neither are secrets, making them better suited to user id's. Passwords, on the other hand, are secrets.

  • by swillden ( 191260 ) <> on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @02:32PM (#38437792) Homepage Journal

    I've been working around advanced security technologies for the last 15 years, and this is what I always tell people about biometrics: Biometrics have two major use cases. In those contexts they are valuable. Outside of them, not so much.

    First, they're great as highly-convenient low-security access controls for stuff that doesn't matter very much. Fingerprint scanner to get into the gym? Great! Face scan to unlock your phone? Great, because the phone's camera is pretty much always going to be pointed at your face when you need to dial a number anyway, so the convenience factor is awesome -- but only as long as it only unlocks relatively unimportant stuff. The really important data on your phone should be protected with a good password.

    Second they're great in very high-security contexts where lots of money is spent to make the acquisition and verification secure. Biometrics, done properly, are highly unique and so a good authenticator of the individual as long as they're not spoofed, or replayed. So they can be relied upon in contexts where replay is impossible (because the scanning devices, template storage, comparison engine and paths between them are all well-secured) and where spoofing is impossible (because someone is actively watching you to verify you're not doing anything to fake out the scanners).

    So biometrics are good at securing stuff that doesn't matter much at all, and stuff that matters so much that significant investment can be applied to make them actually secure. In between? Nope.

    Oh, and most of the 15 years I worked around this stuff was while I was employed by IBM. I gave this mini-lecture to countless IBM execs. I'm not at all surprised to see how little good it did.

Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty. -- Plato