Mind reading just five years away, says IBM

Posted by Emma Woollacott

In five years' time, we'll be reading one another's minds, according to IBM eggheads' annual 5 in 5 predictions.

We'll also be generating our own energy through body movements, saying goodbye to the digital divide and doing away with passwords and junk mail.

"IBM scientists are among those researching how to link your brain to your devices, such as a computer or a smartphone. 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," says IBM.

"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."

IBM also predicts that harvesting energy from body movements or, say, the water flowing through pipes will become commonplace. Biometrics will be more widely used so that cash withdrawals - yes, IBM thinks we'll still have cash - will be authorized using iris recognition and the like.

And we'll all be online, and getting more of the information we want, says IBM. The digital divide is narrowing, and 80 percent of the current global population will have a mobile device, it says.

Meanwhile, ads will become so precisely targeted - and spam filters so efficient - that we'll never have to see an unwanted ad again.

The company's been issuing its 5 in 5 for six years now, and hasn't done badly so far. Its first set, for example, contained the predictions that we'd be able to access healthcare remotely from just about anywhere in the world and address areas of environmental importance using nanotechnology - both of which have to a large extent come true.

Other more recent predictions include the widespread use of speech recognition and personalized genetic medicine.