Five Years from Now: What Our Technological Future Will Be
April 6, 2012 | Permalink
Just five years ago, the technology landscape was quite a bit different than it is today: The now-ubiquitous iPhone had just been unveiled. There was no iPad, no Google Docs; and MySpace was at the top of the Internet social-networking heap. With everything moving so fast, what new technology—improving our businesses, travel abilities and lives overall—will we be using in just five years?
As Apple has been at the vanguard of developments in personal-computing technology and style in the last thirty years, what we are all dying to know is what Apple will do in the next five years. But Apple, probably the most secretive of the technology companies, is not in the prognostication business. So we have to turn, for predictions, to the wizened granddaddy of the Silicon Valley technology companies: IBM. In late 2011, Big Blue made five grand predictions of life-changing leaps in technology that will take place over the next five years.
- “I Sing the Body Electric” will no longer be just a poetic phrase.
IBM predicts that five years from now, the dynamic energy created by the physical activities that we undertake will be harnessed by devices and transformed into electricity to power homes, offices, vehicles and even whole towns and cities. Your steps on your morning run, your pedals on your bicycle commute to work, your son’s annoying booms and bams on his drum kit—all of these movements create energy—energy that we only use once. This energy can be recycled, just as physical resources like bottles and cans are, and used again. IBM predicts that in five years, we will not need solar panels in order to give back to the grid.
- Passwords will become truly individual.
Isn’t it annoying having to remember ten different passwords (at least) for all your separate accounts? We do it without thinking about what a hassle it is—just like we used to memorize many phone numbers and rewind VHS tapes without being bothered by the extra work. Luckily for us, the folks at IBM (and at other tech companies, no doubt) have been working on eliminating this nuisance.
IBM predicts that in the next five years, we will log into our e-mail, social-networking and bank accounts biometrically—that is, computer systems will recognize us and allow us access to our accounts based on our individual physiologies (the way our faces look, our eyes look, our voices sound, etc.).
- The elimination of technology poverty will help end actual poverty.
Because, IBM says, smartphones and tablet computers with access to the Internet through satellite networks will become broadly and affordably available to all the world’s people, rich and poor, over the next five years, healthcare will improve, and people’s ability to get their products to markets, remote and near, will improve.
People in isolated rural areas will be aware when the travelling doctor is coming to town, and they will no longer have to waste time waiting for her arrival day after day. People who produce products that have no market in their local village but that would sell quite well in wealthier parts of the world will be able to make arrangements to get microloans to fund production of their products and arrange to have them shipped to remote locations via their smartphones and tablets.
- Junk mail will be thrown on the junk heap of history.
We are already getting personalized advertisements on some web pages we view based on our browsing histories. IBM predicts this will carry over into the sphere of e-mail. We will no longer get spam—strictly speaking. We still may be annoyed by the amount of advertising that lands in our inbox, but the advertising will be for items we have expressed interest in.
Improvements in our technological future will greatly benefit our businesses, our economy, our ability to travel more efficiently and our lives in general. Technologically, we’ve travelled far, but we have even more exciting destinations in our future.
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