Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes
ARMONK, N.Y. (HLNtv.com) — Five years from now, traffic will prevent itself.
This is perhaps one of the best things we could have ever hoped for from The Future.
But just in case you want even more fantastic predictions about how we'll all be living in 2018 ("Today, President Beyonce has announced she'll seek a second term ..."), IBM experts have announced their annual list of five major trends that will shape our future. The futurists' "5 in 5" report lays out innovative concepts that seem positively Jetsonian today, but could be common five years from now.
They've been publishing the findings from their crystal ball since 2006, so we'll check how their previous predictions have played out a bit farther down. But in their current forecast, the most interesting prediction is the evolution of the "Smart City," which responds in real time to fix everything from traffic congestion to scheduling city services.
Advances in medicine will mean "that in the next five years, the integration of genetic sequencing with cloud-based cognitive systems will help doctors accurately diagnose cancer and create individualized treatment plans for millions of patients around the world," according to IBM.
The futurists also project that local brick-and-mortar stores will benefit from more accessible technology and feedback to gain an advantage over online purchasing, that you will have a personal "digital guardian" to protect your online identity, and that the classroom of the future will be equipped to respond to students' individual abilities to create more effective and tailored lesson plans.
So what are the odds of this vision becoming reality? Well, to figure our future, let's look at the past. Here are IBM's "5 in 5" predictions from 2008 and how they've played out.
- Prediction 1: "In the next five years, solar energy will be an affordable option for you and your neighbors ...with the creation of "thin-film" solar cells, a new type of cost-efficient solar cell that can be 100 times thinner than silicon-wafer cells and produced at a lower cost." How'd that turn out? Solar is definitely on the rise, and many of us know at least one friend or neighbor who has endeavored to install panels. To really go mainstream though, solar still has a big battery problem. Recently, Elon Musk has signed on to help with that. Still, the prediction only said it'd be affordable, not widespread so ... well done.
- Prediction 2: "Your doctor will be able to provide you with a genetic map that tells you what health risks you are likely to face in your lifetime ... based on your specific DNA — all for less than $200. Genetic mapping will radically transform healthcare." How'd that turn out? I believe that's called "23andMe" now. And despite the brick wall that the company just ran into with the Food and Drug Administration, our DNA has clearly become the predicted revolutionary tool in helping to personalize our care and improve our health.
- Prediction 3: "In the future, you will be able to surf the Internet, hands-free, by using your voice. Imagine being within a phone call's reach from the ability to post, scan and respond to e-mails and instant messages — without typing." How'd that turn out? I believe they call that Siri and Google Glass now, to say nothing of all the various "talk-to-text" apps. So that one was pretty spot-on.
- Prediction 4: "Fitting rooms soon will be outfitted with digital shopping assistants — touch screen and voice-activated kiosks that will allow you to choose clothing items and accessories ... (shoppers) will even be able to download money-saving coupons and instantly apply them to their purchases." How'd that turn out? Batting .500 on this one. While the digital dressing room is a reality, they're still pretty rare. However, as anyone who's stepped into a store and pulled up a Groupon, Scoutmob, Living Social or any other digital coupon knows, the rest of that forecast was pretty accurate.
- Prediction 5: "Forgetting will become a distant memory. Microphones and video cameras will record conversations and activities. People can then be prompted to "remember" what discussions they had, for example, with their daughter or doctor by telephone." How'd that turn out? While there's no denying everybody is recording everything now, there's also no denying it's rarely used for such productive purposes. Of course if you have Vine, you probably already know that. Digital recorder apps are plentiful and have many uses from classrooms to kitchens, but they're still pretty low on the List of Amazing Technology in 2013.
So all in all, an impressive track record for IBM's purple-robe, starry-hat band of futurists. That is, by the way, of course how they dress. And you know what that record of success means, right?
No more traffic* for anyone in 2018!
* We cannot guarantee this. There may still be traffic in 2018.
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