IBM predicts mind control developments

AUTHOR: Inavate

IBM has announced its annual 5 in 5 predictions, in which is lists five innovations that the company believes will influence the technology landscape in the next five years. Compared to last year’s bold claims on 3D telepresence, this year’s list feels like a bit of a low ball, with the exception of one thing. Mind control. Read on to watch a presentation video and Chris Fitzsimmons' thoughts on the five predictions.

1. People power will come to life

IBM is predicting that much of the “wasted” energy in our daily lives will be collected and re-used thanks to developments in renewable energy technologies. Behind the jargon, they are essentially suggesting that wasted kinetic energy from bicycle wheels, and even footfall will be recaptured and stored in batteries. Slightly disappointingly the video calls this Created Energy and therefore breaks the first law of thermodynamics. By installing piezoelectric devices and dynamos on bikes, and in shoes or floors, IBM believes we will charge batteries for our electronics devices, and even light our homes. The piezoelectric floor tile has already been demonstrated, the dynamo on a bicycle is older than I am, and wave power is not new. 

Innovation score: 0/5

2. You will never need a password again

IBM’s second prediction is that the concept of a password as we currently recognise it will cease to be. It will instead be replaced by unique biometric signatures based on things like our voice, retinal scan or finger prints or a combination of the above.

This again is already happening. My laptop recognises my face when I log in, without the need for me to type my password. What’s perhaps more interesting is the idea that this biometric identity would be transferable between services such as ATM’s or online accounts. 

Innovation score: 2/5

3. Mind reading is no longer science fiction

Ok, so this is the good stuff. IBM is actively pursuing research into technologies that map brain patterns and allow them to be used to control interaction with our devices. Whilst the examples cited in the video are clearly aimed at consumer tech such as laptops and mobile phones, there’s no reason that this shouldn’t extend in the future to control systems for AV. Although I can see a whole lot of potentially embarrassing support conversations when systems don’t react in the way they are expected to. A wandering mind in a meeting to have some unexpected results.

Innovation score: 5/5

4. The digital divide will cease to exist

Back to low-balling again this one I’m afraid. Essentially, the prediction says that the availability of cheap mobile phone technology will mean that even those in developing countries will have ready access to services and information via the internet. This is of course a good thing, but hardly earth shattering in its adventurousness. Surely IBM’s finest minds can do better.

Innovation score: 0/5

5. Junk mail will become priority mail

This one is interesting just because of its disturbing possibilities. IBM believe that in the future there will be no such thing as spam, just targeted information based on what intelligent devices and systems know about your preferences. So far, so good. The really weird part is where they suggest that your devices will make purchases and reservations on your behalf. I’m not sure how comfortable I am with the idea that my iPhone will tell Amazon or Chelsea FC what I want to buy, and then buy it for me.

Innovation score: 3/5