A common theme among many people who write essays involving business, economics, tech, and media is that there is usually a year end post where the previous year is analyzed. From there, the upcoming year is forecast in a hopefully illuminating light. This is something I attempted to start a couple of years ago but haven't been consistent with at all. So I thought it would be fun to start it back up again since one of my focuses for the next year is to start sharing more of writing in the digital public. This post is going to be pretty simple; the focus will be on what I think what is likely to happen over the next year. I'm hoping to go back over these at the end of the year and see what part of the analysis was close and what was way off. I'm going to make these as simple as possible. So let's get it started.
- The security and privacy issues that are a result of the hacking into older companies will probably get worse. We are still in this middle ground between 20th century old industrial thinking and 21st century new information and data thinking and the companies that haven't moved from the former to the latter will suffer the greatest. Why is this? Because these older companies have never had to deal with problems of this scale before and malicious actors will do their best to exploit it to their benefit. What we will see from this is more and more people may start wanting to migrate their data to a place where they control it themselves which brings me to my next bullet point.
- The crypto space has gone through an intense reckoning over the past year and it may be in for some more this year. I'm not going to forecast the price of any cryptoassets because I really don't know what will happen. What I do think will happen is that more and more of the "projects" and "protocols" that were created in the last couple of years are going to disappear completely. And that is probably a great thing to have happen in the space. The are some legitimate projects that are being built in the space (Blockstack and Mimblewimble come to mind as well as a few others) but there are many more that add very little value. I still think it's early days for crypto and open networks but the kinks are still being worked out. So what I do think will happen is that projects and companies that have built a useful product or service will keep pushing forward and adding value to the space while most others will fizzle out. One big idea that I think will be incredibly useful that can only really be implemented on open networks will be giving consumers the option to control their own data. The majority of the security and privacy issues come down to users not owning their own data. Which brings me to the next bullet point.
- The techlash is going to continue relentlessly and the aim of that ire will be directed not only at Facebook, but many other tech companies as well. This will be for similar yet very different reasons. Take Facebook for example: The leadership team has had to go from one crisis to the next dealing with Russian interference in U.S. elections, security gripes, and the Cambridge Analytica fiasco. But Facebook isn't the only company dealing with a growing techlash. Googles size, clout, and control over what pops up in its search results (not to mention the algorithmic problems with Youtube), has been making many people uncomfortable and Amazon may start causing even more ire after its incredibly strange search American Idol-esque search for a second head quarters.
- AI and automation will be the much bigger story for the economy at large. More and more products will probably have some sort of AI/machine learning algorithms built into them. This will be great for the companies that control and sell those products and services but bad for the jobs that automation will make redundant. The pop culture idea of automation is that there is a robot uprising and suddenly we are at war with the terminator. Sounds very dramatic and al very unlikely. What is more apt to happen is that a piece of AI software will automate some aspect of a business that needed 30 people in a department. Now, that department may only need 2 people and let the rest go. A sort of silent job loss. That is something that I think we will start seeing more of in the future.
- There are a few other subjects that will probably take center stage and that I would like to dive a bit deeper into understanding are: AI and censorship on the social networks (global communications platforms) and the repercussions of this happening. The subversive hidden networks that are quickly becoming the voice of our culture (an example of these networks can found through hashtags). And of course, the role of technology companies in our society today and how their size, money, and power are effecting everything from politics on the national stage to housing and pricing on the local level.
For me personally I am planning on writing more about the role of media in our culture today. This will include everything from music, entertainment, gaming, VR and the like to how media effects our culture in general and the role technology is playing in culture around us. It's my way of helping us find our way forward.