What 2016 Will Look Like

Posted: 19/12/2011 in Strategy

Every year around this time, IBMhas brings out its crystal ball to make five predictions about the world in five years.

Here are the company’s predictions for 2016, with our snap judgments of how likely they are to come true.

  • Power your house with energy you create yourself — for instance, when you pedal your bike, the energy you create will be stored in some kind of battery and later fed back into your house.
    Snap judgment: doubtful. Nice idea, but will require some new equipment in houses, and it’s hard to imagine that the energy savings will be enough to justify that — why not start with bigger bang for your buck like installing solar panels?
  • No more passwords. Biometric sensors will use your retina or voice to figure out who you are.
    Snap judgment: partly. This is already starting to happen in some places, but most systems don’t require this much security — it’s hard to imagine eBay or Yahoo Mail (for instance) retrofitting their log-on systems to get rid of passwords. 
  • Computers will read your mind. You’ll be able to control a cursor with your thoughts, for instance. Could have great applications in gaming and entertainment. 
    Snap judgment: no way. The technology is supposedly already here, but this seems like overkill for consumers.
  • The digital divide will disappear. As Internet-connected phones become more common, more people in developing countries will be able to get online.
    Snap judgment: yes. This shift is underway right now in big countries like China, India, and Indonesia, and there are expected to be more than 5 billion phones sold in 2012.
  • No more spam. Pitches will become so personalized and spam filters so exact that your inbox will feel a lot more personal.
    Snap judgment: reasonable. We’ve already noticed a dramatic decrease in the amount of spam that gets through our filters in the last year or so, but we’re a little skeptical because we remember Bill Gates predicting the death of spam within two years — way back in 2004.

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