May 1, 2008


At the kickoff event held earlier this week, five of IBM's top scientists met with students and alumni, along with other invitees from the entertainment industry to discuss the "World in 2050: Putting the Science Back into Science Fiction" (

IBM researchers discussed the potential for self-healing spinal cords; embedded digital assistants that remember all you hear or say; the concept of "longevity management" for life-spans stretching past the century mark; drinkable, purified water everywhere; changes to the human genome; and many other insights into what the world might be like in the year 2050 and beyond. 

And while many of the ideas sound like science fiction, IBM scientists say that projects incubating today in their labs, and elsewhere, might just become a reality. 

"We've long realized that radical innovation can be accelerated by tapping into the most creative talent we can find," explains Don Eigler, fellow, IBM Research. Working with the USC School of Cinematic Arts, he says, can offer a glimpse of the future that the company may never have found on its own.

IBM Research and the USC School of Cinematic Arts will now collaborate on a research project that aims to explore a future in 2050 based on scientific projections for areas such as nanotechnology, digital imaging, predictive software, and emerging medical, environmental and collective intelligence technologies. The project might inspire new movie or television scripts, digital media projects, a time capsule or lead to novel projects and applications that IBM could pursue.