5 reasons why IBM is full of FAIL

By Richi Jennings (@richi ) - December 20, 2011.

5 in 5 (IBM)

IBM has just published its top five predictions for technology in 2016. And, by golly, what a load of utterly bogus, crazy rubbish they are. "5 in 5"? More like Zero in five. Energy from water? An end to passwords? Mind control? All these and more debunked in The Long View...

Here's the five-minute overview video. I suggest not watching it in a quiet library, as your loud, sarcastic laughter may disturb others:

I predict that all five predictions will be proved wrong. They're variously unscientific, unrealistic, over-optimistic, unimaginative, and unoriginal.

According to Big Blue, you'll be able to power your house on energy generated from the water pressure in the pipes, from cycling, and from walking around your home. What laughably unscientific rubbish, especially the "energy from water" claim.

Even if you were able to extract 100% of the potential energy in your water pressure, that would still be a minuscule fraction of the energy needed. If we assume the typical mains water pressure is the equivalent of a 15m head of water, that means a liter of water pressure equates to 0.00004 kW·h -- a whopping $0.00001 of electricity.

If we assume a really efficient house, using just 4 kW·h per day, that means you'd need to convert 125,000 liters of water -- that's 33,000 U.S. gallons, or an entire lane of a minimum-standard, Olympic-sized swimming pool. Every day.

To be fair to IBM, the report says this would "help" save energy, but realistically, we're talking about a fraction of 1% of household energy use. Energy efficiency measures offer far more bang for the buck than this, or the other silly IBM green-fantasy ideas.

2. Ubiquitous biometrics will replace passwords: UNREALISTIC

There's something to this: fingerprint scanners are now secure enough for some applications. However, we'll need plenty of ubiquitous hardware if you're going to log on to anything from anywhere. Agreeing standards and putting all that in place is going to take longer than five years.

This is classic ivory-tower thinking. I really can't see that happening: In case you've not noticed, we're going through a fierce platform war right now.

Oh, and as for the claim that you can authenticate with an ATM "by speaking your name," I won't insult your intelligence by pointing out how obviously insecure this is.

3. Mind reading: OVER-OPTIMISTIC

Yes, friends, within five years, we'll all be thinking at our computers and smartphones. Err, except IBM's own publicity video admits that this capability is "many years in the future," if at all. So why is it even on this list?

Incidentally, how dare IBM imply that autism is something that requires "rehabilitation"? There's a red rag to a bull. Doesn't the company realize that a significant percentage of its target market sit on the autism spectrum?

4. No digital divide: UNIMAGINATIVE

So, in five years, the penetration of smartphones and other devices that allow Internet access will be 80%, says IBM. This will allow communities to achieve more.

Given the rate of mobile device acquisition in the developing world, this is not such a stunning prediction. One of these things is not like the others. This collection of predictions is looking more and more like it was randomly thrown together by the crazy-committee.

5. An end to spam: UNORIGINAL

Oh boy, here we go again. It wasn't true when Bill Gates said it in 2004, and little has changed to make it true now.

And as for being able to get alerts when my favorite band is touring, or if my flight is delayed... well, there's nothing new to see here; move along.

Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment below...

Richi Jennings, blogger at large

Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. As well as The Long View, he's also the creator and main author of Computerworld's IT Blogwatch -- for which he has won American Society of Business Publication Editors and Jesse H. Neal awards on behalf of IDG Enterprise. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email: TLV@richij.com. You can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.  

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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