We'll be able to read each other's minds, forget all our passwords, and create all our own homes' energy.
These are just three of the five predictions IBM announced this morning as part of its annual "5 in 5" prognostication project.
The list is meant to promote long-term work being done under Big Blue's Smarter Planet initiative–and the company says "5 in 5" already has a track record of success. In 2008, IBM says, it suggested that within five years, consumers would talk to the Web–and the Web would respond.
This time, the predictions are perhaps a bit more fanciful:
Mind reading is no longer science fiction. You will be able to power your home with the energy you create yourself. You will never need a password again. The digital divide will cease to exist. Junk mail will become priority mail.
It would seem the most interesting idea posited by IBM is the one about reading minds. But lest you think that what its scientists are saying is that you'll be able to glare at a friend–or perhaps more importantly, an enemy–and know what he or she is thinking, that may be more than five years off. Rather, this is about how our brains might someday be synced with computing devices …
If you just need to think about calling someone, it happens. Or you can control the cursor on a computer screen just by thinking about where you want to move it.
Scientists in the field of bioinformatics have designed headsets with advanced sensors to read electrical brain activity that can recognize facial expressions, excitement and concentration levels, and thoughts of a person without them physically taking any actions.
Within five years, we will begin to see early applications of this technology in the gaming and entertainment industry. Furthermore, doctors could use the technology to test brain patterns, possibly even assist in rehabilitation from strokes and to help in understanding brain disorders, such as autism.
We'd love to discuss this further, but there's a William Gibson on the line, and boy is he excited …