Big Blue’s latest “5 in 5” technology predictions focus on cognitive computing and predicts how these thinking digital assistants will change the way we live.

“This vision,” declares IBM’s Steve Hamm, “is not science fiction.”

Advances in computing power – think, for example, IBM’s “Watson,” which is taking on cancer after beating human Jeopardy champions – are going to give we mere humans access to information and be able to analyze it just like big business, says Hamm.

He forecasts a “new era” in PC power.

“Underlying this new era of computing—which we call the era of cognitive systems–are a handful of essential technologies,” he writes in a blog about IBM’s annual forecast. “They include learning systems and big data analytics.”

Hamm, a former journalist turned author, is now a strategist, writer, and videographer in IBM’s corporate communications department. 

He wants people to rethink those smartphones and other devices we carry with us. Rather than tools they become partners.

“Imagine this: Your computer, the one you carry around in your pocket or purse, knows everything about you. With your permission, it knows about your relationships with the people, places and things in your world. It talks and listens to you,” he writes. “And, as your computer interacts with you and with the vast store of data about you, it learns to be an even better assistant —helping you navigate your personal and professional lives.”

He sees our smart devices as helping us “make the most important decisions affecting our lives.”

IBM forecasts how  cognitive computing power will be used in five specific areas. Here they are with links to online videos about each:  

  • The classroom will learn you – The classroom of the future will learn about each student over the course of their education, helping students master the skills critical to meeting their goals.
  • Buying local will beat online – Savvy retailers will tap cognitive technologies and use the immediacy of the physical store to create experiences that cannot be replicated by online-only retail.
  • Doctors will routinely use your DNA to keep you well – Computers will help doctors understand how specific mutations in a patient’s DNA have lead to growth of a cancerous tumor. They’ll recommend a cocktail of medicine shown to best attack that cancer.
  • The city will help you live in it – Cognitive systems will learn to understand what people need, what they like, what they do, and how they move from place to place—so the managers of the city can respond better to their needs.
  • A digital guardian will protect you online – Security systems will acquire a 360-degree view of an individual’s data, devices and applications. They’ll readily spot patterns that could be precursors to a cyber attack or a stolen identity.

Amazing, isn’t it?

In the year 2018, we become almost one with our smart device … 

That’s scary – or exhilarating. 

[IBM ARCHIVE: Check out more than a decade of IBM stories as reported in WRALTechWire.]