December 2017
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Five predictions that will define our future

IBM 5 in 5

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 classroom will learn you

The number of individuals who don’t have a sufficient education is a major global challenge. Estimates show that, on a global basis, nearly 2 out of every 3 adults have not achieved the equivalent of a high school education. What if a student could go through their entire stages of education and master the skills critical to meeting their personal goals in life?

The classroom of the future will give educators the tools to learn about every student, providing them with a tailored curriculum from kindergarten to high school and on to employment. In the next five years the classroom will learn about each studentusing longitudinal data such as test scores, attendance and student’s behavior on e-learning platforms, not just aptitude tests.  Sophisticated analytics delivered over the cloud will provide decision support to teachers so they can predict students who are most at risk, their roadblocks, and then suggest measures to help students conquer their challenges based on their individual learning style.

Buying local will beat online

Shopping online is a national past time.  Online sales topped $1 trillion worldwide for the first time last year, and are growing faster than in-store sales.

Online stores currently have an advantage in their ability to learn from the choices we make on the web. Today, most physical stores are limited to the insights they can gain at the point of sale – and the trend of showrooming is making it harder to compete with online retailers who compete solely on price.

In five years, new innovations will make buying local du jour once again.  Savvy retailers will use the immediacy of the store and proximity to customers to create experiences that cannot be replicated by online-only retail.  They will magnify the digital experience by bringing the web right to where the shopper can physically touch it.

As mobile devices supported by cloud computing enable individuals to share what makes them tick, their health or nutritional needs, virtual closets and social networks, retailers will soon be able to anticipate with incredible accuracy the products a shopper most wants and needs. As a result, stores will transform into immersive destinations with experiences customized for each individual.

And given their proximity and multiple footprints, stores will be able to offer shoppers a variety of fast pick-up or delivery options, wherever the customer is. Two day shipping will feel like snail mail.

Doctors will routinely use your DNA to keep you well

Cancer is a complicated disease and despite tremendous advances in research and treatment, the incidence of cancer has risen more than 10 percent since 2008, striking more than 14 million patients and claiming the lives of 8.1 million every year around the world.

Imagine if treatment could be more specific and precise – where computers could help doctors understand how a tumor affects a patient down to their DNA and present a collective set of medications shown to best attack the cancer.

In five years, advances in big data analytics and emerging cloud-based cognitive systems coupled with breakthroughs in genomic research and testing could help doctors to accurately diagnose cancer and create personalized cancer treatment plans for millions of patients around the world.  Smart machines will take the output of full genome sequencing and scour vast repositories of medical records and publications to learn and quickly provide specific and actionable insights on treatment options for oncologists.

Cancer care, personalized right down to a genomic level, has been on the horizon since scientists first sequenced the human genome, but few clinicians have access to the tools and time to assess the insights available at this level. Within five years, cloud-based cognitive systems could make such personalized medicine available at a scale and speed never before possible.

Through the cloud, smarter healthcare could scale to reach more people in more locations, while also giving a global community of healthcare providers access to vital information.

A digital guardian will protect you online

Today we have multiple IDs and devices than ever before, yet security is highly fragmented, leaving us vulnerable.  In 2012 there were more than 12 million victims of identity fraud in the United States. Traditional approaches to security —  passwords, anti-virus or a firewall – are not comprehensive. These rules-based approaches fall short in several ways – they are designed to recognize only known viruses or known fraudulent activity and typically only look at a single source of data.

In five years, each of us could be protected with our own digital guardian that will become trained to focus on the people and items it is entrusted with, offering a new level of identity theft protection. Security will assimilate contextual, situational and historical data to verify a person’s identity on different devices. By learning about users, a digital guardian can make inferences about what’s normal or reasonable activity and what’s not, acting as an advisor when they want it to.

 The city will help you live in it

By 2030, the towns and cities of the developing world will make up 80 percent of urban humanity and by 2050, seven out of every 10 people will be a city dweller.

In five years smarter cities understand 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.

Soon it will be possible for cities and their leaders to understand and digest new information freely provided by citizens, knowing which city resources are needed, where and when, so the city can dynamically optimize around the needs of the citizens. Mobile devices and social engagement will enable citizens to strike up a relationship with their city leaders. This concept is already in motion. These types of tools will become commonplace in helping city leaders identify trending concerns or urgent matters and immediately take action where needed.

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