Every year IBM announces “5 in 5” technology predictions which will be important to the world within 5 years. This year IBM researchers reviewed them at at IBM Think 2019 on 2/13/2019. The presenters were:
- Geraud Dubois, DGM Science to Solutions, IBM Research – Almaden
- Arvind Krishna, SVP, Cloud and Cognitive Software, IBM
- Jeannette M. Garcia, Global Lead for Quantam Applications in Quantum Chemestry & Science
- Donna N. Dillenberger, IBM Fellow, Enterprise Solutions
- Juliet Mutahi, Software Engineer IBM Research Africa
- Sriram Raghavan, VP IBM Research-India @ Singapore, CTO IBM India, IBM Research
Summary and background
This year’s 5 in 5 focuses on food. The world’s food supply faces dire problems.
- The population is growing fast and the farming footprint is getting smaller. The food supply must be sustained and increased.
- Climate events such as droughts, fires, floods etc affect the food supply chain in many ways.
- 45% of all food goes to waste today. The USA alone wastes 150 tons per day.
Melissa King, Top Chef Finalist, introduced the five IBM reseachers. The predictions follow:
Digital technologies in agriculture will contribute to feeding a growing population using fewer resources
- Farming’s digital doubles will help feed a growing population using less resources. This is essentially a virtual model allowing farmers to socialize, share and act on data.
- Farmers band together to form cooperatives to share information today but technology can make that instantaneous and on a global scale.
- IoT can and will provide predictive fleet maintenance.
- Sensors on tractors can digitize a farm.
- AI can analyze information from farm and crop data across the planet.
- Example: a digital card is available that can analyze soil composition and then a mobile app reads the card and analyzes results.
- AI can track and predict yields.
- Technology ultimately helps farmers make better decisions.
Blockchain will prevent more food from going to waste
- 1/3 of all food and half of fruit and vegetables go to waste.
- 150 billion oranges are wasted every year.
- This isn’t just food waste: it wastes water, energy, land, effort etc.
- This happens because supply chain is complex and chaotic.
- Blockchain, IoT and AI within 5 years will drastically reduce food waste.
- Blockchain – it visibility to distribution.
- I0T will track the food.
- AI will optimize food distribution and increase freshness.
- Example – Orange distributor in Florida
- Today, mostly guesswork on quantity, amount and time of a shipment are used to determine what to send.
- For example, what if oranges are flying off the shelves in Atlanta but not Chicago. By the time this is known, it is too late to route shipments.
- Blockchain can securely share distribution data points.
- IoT can capture data everywhere, e.g. weather, traffic, consumption etc.
- AI makes intelligent decisions.
- Sending the right food to the right place at the right time is the key to reducing waste.
Mapping the microbiome will protect us from bad bacteria
- 2008 more than 50,000 babies in china were infected with an infant formula contaminated with Metaline .
- Microbes are everywhere – the human body has as many microbes as cells. Some are good and some are bad.
- Food-borne illnesses cost $9 billion in medical expenses and $75 billion in food loss each year.
- Many microbes are good.
- Microbes can be mapped with DNA and RNA sequencing and analyzed for changes
- Sudden changes are signs of a problem
- Big data is important to it.
- Created a database containing all microbiomes the world produced in the last 10 years.
- Team has generated 500 terabytes of data.
- This technology can detect outbreaks before they happen through data, AI and analytics
AI sensors will detect foodborne pathogens at home
Donna N Dillenberger
- In 2018 food made 76 million people sick from food and killed 5,000.
- What if there were a technology that could scan food and tell if it is ok?
- IBM Verifier
- It is an optical device connected to a phone that captures wavelengths at the micron level such as detecting bacteria.
- AI software can take the data and determine what is safe.
- It can also detect counterfeit food products.
- It can also authenticate drugs, labels, food, wines, oils, etc.
- The Verifier can be attached to other things such as cutting boards, containers cutlery, cooking utensils etc.
- It could be in trucks shipping food, conveyor belts moving food and in supermarket isles.
- Today it takes 2 days or more to test food. Within 5 years testing for pathogens will take seconds instead of days.
A radical new recycling process will breathe new life into old plastic
Jeanette M. Garcia
- The US recycles less than 10% of plastic waste.
- We have produced over 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic.
- 1/2 of all manufactured plastics wind up trash.
- Projections that by 2050 predict the ocean will contain more plastic than fish.
- IBM just announced a breakthrough called VolCat
- Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) is the core product in virtually every plastic.
- PET can be 100% recyclable using a process called VolCat(volatile Catalyst)
- The Volcat process can extract the PET from plastics and use it to remake the same material or something completely different.
- Cleaning plastics prior to the VolCat process is not needed because of filtering.
- Breakthroughs like VolCat will create a true plastic circular technology.
IBM has published the full predictions here.