Over the next five years, the world as we know it will undoubtedly transform.
We only have to look back five years to see how our tech, devices, language and our very behaviour has changed quite dramatically. Adoption of the share economy, the Internet of Things, facial recognition, Siri, peak social media … they all seemed far-fetched in 2013, but are part of our daily lives now.
With this rapid rate of change evident, it’s interesting to unveil predictions of what may come in the next half decade.
IBM’s flagship conference Think 2018 is a first-of-its-kind technology conference being held this week in Las Vegas. With live broadcasts, real-time sessions and some really bloody bright minds delivering keynotes, it’s a pretty revolutionary series of events.
Kicking off the conference was a ‘Science Slam’ : Unveiling 5 Breakthrough Technologies That Will Change the World which was fascinating to watch live and is available to view in replay here. Five expert speakers delivering short narrative stories, which are a great way to engage with an audience (live or online) in five-minute bursts of informal talks. Like speed-dating a TED talk.
Obviously, having IBM scientists & researchers delivering speeches at an IBM conference is akin to marketing ice to eskimos. There’s a lot of back-patting and optimism contained in the content. But there are also some genuinely revolutionary breakthroughs being discussed.
Get ready for these five changes to the world as we know it:
1. Blockchain & crypto-anchors
Counterfeiting of products, ingredients and pharmaceuticals is a global problem. Using trusted technology such as blockchain, crypto-anchors will halve the number of counterfeit goods that contribute to health and safety issues.
Embedded in products, in the DNA in rice, in the very weave of paper, crypto-anchors cannot be cloned. Its ‘uniqueness’ can be recognised by A.I.
Used to authenticate medicine, food or genuine car parts, this tech has the ability to save lives.
2. New Encryption Techniques
Cecilia Boschini explained how Lattice based cryptography can provide a full upgrade of security structures so that not even quantum computers could crack the code. Using unexpected applications of number theory & math, she describes it as “the art of designing protocols to protect data”
3. Robot powered AI microscopes
Who knew that plankton could be our heroes?
Plankton produce 2/3rds of the oxygen we breathe and they live in a complex eco-system that’s hard to observe. Under threat from a variety of human activities, such as plastic pollution, scientists are finding that they are not faring well.
In the next 5 years we’ll be able to monitor them in their own environment by using AI and remote sensing technologies (like the ones that are already in phone camera sensors that drive face-recognition) to build tiny microscopes to alert scientists before possible catastrophe.
4. Bias in AI data sets
In a world where people are increasingly retreating into their own filter-bubbles (thanks, Facebook), we can understand the importance of inclusion and diversity in shaping AI.
Francesca Rossi is an AI researcher who regularly consults with philosophers, ethicists, scientists, educators & economists and believes that a multi-disciplinarian environment is crucial in understanding and contributing to the issues.
If we want our AI systems to contribute to human society, then it’s important to eradicate the bias that humans can bring (even if it’s unconscious) and train that data to detect and mitigate bias in systems. She closes in saying that by improving AI, we might just improve ourselves.
5. Quantum computers
Dr Talia Gershon explains some new ways of building systems and scalable technologies through quantum computing that will require a whole range of breakthroughs across STEM disciplines… and fundamentally change the way we think.
Predictions of quantum theory entering mainstream teachings go some way to show how we will soon change the way we think, and then adopt quantum computing through their IBMq network.This is their industry-first initiative to build commercially available universal quantum computers for business and science.
The theory – and background physics behind quantum – are a total mind-melt and could explode your head if you’re not careful. We’ve been trying to keep up on this deep, deep topic for a while now… but as Dr Gershan helpfully explains, it’s not possible to apply classical thinking to quantum. Linear, logic thinking just doesn’t work here.
That’s a relief.
This science slam at IBM’s 2018 Think Conference was a thought-provoking glimpse into the inevitable changes that will take place in technology between now and 2023. We look forward to finding more insights and inspiration over the coming days of the event… and over the coming years in our world.