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12/17/2013
12:36 PM
Doug Henschen
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IBM Predicts Next 5 Life-Changing Tech Innovations

IBM unveils its annual "5 in 5" list of technology breakthroughs that promise to change how we work and live within five years. Real promise or PR fantasy?
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IBM issued its eighth annual "IBM 5 in 5" list Tuesday, Dec. 17, once again noting five potentially life-changing innovations that will make their mark within five years. The theme behind this year's list is cognitive computing, whereby learning machines will help us do a better job of teaching, selling, treating patients, protecting security, and making cities more livable.

Cognitive computing has been a big push for IBM in 2013. That's the technology behind Watson, the reigning non-human "Jeopardy" champion that IBM is trying to quickly evolve from an interesting technology demo into the practical, commercially successful brain behind real-world applications.

In one of her first major public events as IBM's CEO, Ginny Rometty declared early this year that we're entering a third wave of computing. In the first wave, computers were used to count. In the second wave, computers became programmable so they could execute instructions.

"The third era will be about computers that learn," she said. "It has to be because information is too big and growing too fast, so you can't program it. The computer has to learn, by itself."

Taking advantage of machines that are "aware," IBM says we can look forward to classrooms that learn about students and then personalize coursework and support accordingly. Local, brick-and-mortar stores have been getting clobbered by online retailers, but IBM predicts that over the next five years augmented reality, wearable computing, and location intelligence will bring local retailers back into the game.

On the healthcare front -- an industry where Watson is already being put to work -- IBM predicts that cancers will be routinely treated at the DNA level within five years. With these personalized treatments, based on the DNA of the patient and their tumors, we'll see more effective treatments and fewer unnecessary side effects. This is already happening, but within five years costs will decrease dramatically and a now-rarified treatment will become commonplace, says IBM.

There were 12.6 million victims of identity fraud last year in the US alone, but IBM predicts that within five years we'll all have our own "digital guardians" that will watch over our digital lives, using cloud-based analytics to learn the difference between our normal activity and potentially dangerous online activity.

In a final prediction, IBM says that within five years cities will become more adaptive thanks to cloud-based social feedback, crowdsourcing, and predictive analytics. Systems will connect to billions of sensors to sense and respond to traffic and transit patterns and human preferences and demand, enabling city managers and leaders to respond quickly to constituent needs and dynamically reallocate resources.

Are we on our way to responsive schools, retail stores, healthcare, digital devices, and governments? Read more about IBM's predictions and evidence and add your comments on what's realistic and what's a pipe dream.

Doug Henschen is executive editor of InformationWeek, where he covers the intersection of enterprise applications with information management, business intelligence, big data and analytics. He previously served as editor-in-chief of Intelligent Enterprise, editor-in-chief of Transform Magazine, and executive editor at DM News.

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cbabcock
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cbabcock,
User Rank: Author
12/17/2013 | 2:41:36 PM
Big impact will come from more intelligent response to disease
IBM's prediction on the revival of retail is intriguing. But I think the real impact highlighted on this list is the change that will come about in cancer treatment and health care. DNA information is a powerful tool for coming up with the right way to counter disease. Cancer is a one target, but so are the mitochondrial diseases, Parkinsons, Lou Gerhrig's disease, Huntington's disease, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, which are linked to DNA mutations. As we build up the knowledge base of what works with each type of mutation, based on individual genomic treatments will become much more effective.
D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
12/17/2013 | 3:26:05 PM
Personalization is the theme
Cognitive computing makes it sound like a science experiment. "Personlization technology" is a more user-fiendly term, and it's really what we're talking about here -- personalized teaching, retailing, medicine, security and ... okay, maybe that doesn't fit as well on the cities front.

As for which of these are real and doable within five years, I'd say personalized medicine and responsive, connected city infrastructure are already well along. The cynic in me makes me think physical retailing and education are areas where IBM would like to get lots of consulting bucks, but I have to wonder if anybody can really move the needle with technology alone. As for security, here, too, there's lots of money up for grabs, but IBM isn't the first name I think of when it comes to security. Wouldn't RSA, McAfee or Symantic be more likely to bring this innovation?

To be fair, IBM didn't say it would necessarily lead all these innovations (though it pointed to projects on all five fronts), it just said they're coming. 
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
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12/17/2013 | 8:06:16 PM
Local retail
I agree that local retailers will make digital part of the store experience -- I'm surprised big boxes such as Best Buy haven't made more progress creating a digital experience. But I'm not clear how that experience answers the question of showrooming -- that a person doesn't soak up your store experience and knowledgable staff, and now also your digital experience, and then still buy it for a bit less online. Did I miss that?  
Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
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12/17/2013 | 11:46:04 PM
Re: Local retail
Good point and I agree that what you have mentioned does happen a lot, on the other hand I have also noticed that a consumer could go online and gather as much information as possible from an online retailer through products review etc and then finally ends up buying the product from an off-line store. I guess, these situations arise when either the online store does not have a reputation of a high level of trust with the consumer, and the off line store is not charging above the differences that the consumer is willing to pay that is accompanied with physical stores.

Online retail is big and is growing, but since offline retail has also managed to stay in business, I have a feeling that if these offline retail stores do embrace technology than IBM's prediction about retail will come true, even if we only consider the value that trust brings, through physical presences of the store. 
KevinO442
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KevinO442,
User Rank: Strategist
3/18/2014 | 6:31:00 PM
Re: Local retail
The problem with going onlin , "Brian, Dean" and researching , is that google and the like all want to put you in a filter bubble. They want you to log in , and then they want to show you only the high priced stuff , and deny you the search results for the lower priced stuff... why ? Because they're advertisers pay them to do this, to push their ads to the top of the results list.

 

Researching stuff online is becoming more and more tricky  as the various search engines start taking hand outs from advertisers to push their (high priced) results and out right get rid of the lower priced alternatives.
Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
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3/19/2014 | 4:32:33 AM
Re: Local retail
Kevin, I agree that what you have said does play out. The trade-off that Google or a company that adversities faces might also be creating an effort, for instance, if Google continuously pushes paid content forward to its users by pushing organic content down, then users will leave. If companies do not advertise then their prices can be decreased but this will also limit their reach -- allowing another company whose prices are completely non-competitive to operate.
TomM765
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TomM765,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/18/2013 | 1:00:34 PM
Re: Local retail
There is more to this.  The difference may be the convience factor and getting it then and there vs. going back home to get a few percentage points off on Amazon.  But there are two other issues here also.  On Amazon you get built in comparision shopping not only in price, but in other similar produces and associated product add-ons and produce reviews that most brick and mortor stores can't come close to providing for want of stocking space and overhead (unless they want to become net centric front ends).  For shoppers who have a need but not nessesarily a brand loyaty this is a big plus.  And until we level the network tax playing field the brick and mortor stores will be tied down with added local taxes and be hit again by amplified morgage and upkeep costs that will price them out of many markets.  
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
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12/18/2013 | 7:10:53 PM
Re: Local retail
I have my doubts about the viability of local retail. Local shops just can't hold the inventory of e-commerce giants. I can't tell you how many times I've looked for an item in a neighborhood shop, only to find that the store doesn't have the right size, color, or options I'm looking for. Usually, that business ends up going to Amazon or the like.
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
12/22/2013 | 9:54:37 PM
Re: Local retail
Thomas, I have the same opinion as yours. The local retail is a kind of business that will be in an embarrassing position in the future digitial world. Recently a big local chain retail enterprise got backrupt in China. One of the major reasons is the fierce competition from online market, which has big variety of goods and timely delivery system. Nowadays there is a trend that big department store becomes the place to have the dinner, watch the movie and other kinds of entertainments instead of shopping. People do shopping online quite often - I just got one pair of ECCO leather shoes from web last weekend.:-)
Ellis Booker
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Ellis Booker,
User Rank: Strategist
12/18/2013 | 12:03:26 PM
Liking this "Top Five" list
There should be more of these. That ol' annual standby, the Top 10 List, tends to be watered-down effort by the seventh item.  
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
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12/18/2013 | 1:34:02 PM
Classroom Of Future
The classroom vision seems rosy. Changing curriculum involves serious political battles in public schools, as the current controversy over Common Core shows.
billmosby
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billmosby,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/18/2013 | 1:55:06 PM
Computer intelligence and learning
I suppose one more innovation might be needed, something to keep us motivated to learn after it becomes common knowledge that computers are smarter than we are and can do for us everything we need done.
J_Brandt
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J_Brandt,
User Rank: Ninja
12/23/2013 | 8:06:34 PM
Loal Retail
I think people's comfort with local retail is dependent on the whos and whats.  My mother has never and will never shop online – many of her generation will not.  But as each successive generation is more comfortable online that will change.  People who are making a questionable purchase will go where the return policy is more favorable or hassle free.  People who need something NOW (Amazon delivery drones aside) will always go local.  I know people that browse local, touch and feel it, then buy online.  I know others that compare and contrast and read the online reviews and then buy local.  I think people will always use one source and buy from another.  The more an item is a commodity, the more this happens.
KevinO442
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KevinO442,
User Rank: Strategist
3/18/2014 | 6:11:30 PM
Cognative Computing is Toast
I believe Cognative Computing (ie: A computerized class room , computerized medical care, etc etc) is toast. It will never happen , except for a short disaster filled test run.

Ever see that robocop movie where they rebuilt him after he got trashed, and the politicians got a hold of him and inserted ten zillian different wacky commands to apease every interest group there was ?

yeah , picture the politico's in america getting a hold of a sentient classroom and demanding evolution be banned from it and it teach the bible instead. Picture the sentient computer deciding that "since you all go to heaven when you die , you should all run out and play in traffic" , or play russian roulette . Not guarenteed death , so not technically suicide but ...

Yeesh.

Picture it teaching evolution , and deciding little tommy is too weak to survive, therefore by the rules of evolution the rest of the class should beat him up and kill him.

Yeesh again.

A human being can look at these rules and say "this is nutso , I'm not doing that." A sentient machine , forced to obey , politicians demanding certain things be put in and acted on not just ignored ... no. That's a recipie for disaster.
KevinO442
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KevinO442,
User Rank: Strategist
3/18/2014 | 6:24:57 PM
opinion
Local Retail : The only thing you're going to be buying locally is paste for your 3D printer , or looking for a decent restaurant.  You can cook for yoruself and it's $120 / month for groceries, but still the restaurants and bars are full.  And IBM seems to be ignoring the coming disaster known as 3D printing so the only "buying locally" you'll be doing is heading to the 'crafting room' to start something printing and coming back the next day when it's done.

 

Digital Guardian : You build a digital guardian , they will make that guardian the first thing they hack. It's pretty routine now a days for virii to go after the anti-virus programs on a computer first, disable it , and then go for the gold.  This one is already debunked.

Doctors and DNA : A rosy future, but it opens a snakes nest of using "altered DNA" or even someone elses DNA , on a patient to fix things that maybe shouln't be fixed. (lot third worlders want boys only , because a boy child will help the parents when they get old where as a girl child is just a burden in their cultures...yeesh ! )

 

 
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