IBM Predicts Next 5 Life-Changing Tech Innovations - InformationWeek

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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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Classrooms learn you 
If children can't learn the way we teach, why don't we teach the way they learn? This question captures IBM's vision for learning classrooms that track the progress of each student and then personalize coursework accordingly. Teachers naturally adapt to the needs of each student, but IBM says cloud-based systems will 'go much further' by automatically creating customized lesson plans and tailoring coursework for specific careers. This will enable schools to 'reach more students in more meaningful ways,' says IBM. With students leaning at their own pace, we'll move beyond the tyranny of grades.
IBM scientists are putting these theories to the test in a research project with Gwinnett County Public Schools in Georgia, and it says big data analytics will predict performance and learning needs and then align learning content and techniques with specific students. Sounds good in theory, but we've also recently seen great expectations for massive open online courses (MOOCs) that haven't been met. So is IBM onto something, or is this one of those predictions that's too good to be true?

Classrooms learn you
If children can't learn the way we teach, why don't we teach the way they learn? This question captures IBM's vision for learning classrooms that track the progress of each student and then personalize coursework accordingly. Teachers naturally adapt to the needs of each student, but IBM says cloud-based systems will "go much further" by automatically creating customized lesson plans and tailoring coursework for specific careers. This will enable schools to "reach more students in more meaningful ways," says IBM. With students leaning at their own pace, we'll move beyond the tyranny of grades.

IBM scientists are putting these theories to the test in a research project with Gwinnett County Public Schools in Georgia, and it says big data analytics will predict performance and learning needs and then align learning content and techniques with specific students. Sounds good in theory, but we've also recently seen great expectations for massive open online courses (MOOCs) that haven't been met. So is IBM onto something, or is this one of those predictions that's too good to be true?

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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.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
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.
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
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?  
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. 
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