Some Predictions, 2017

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I’ve been late to the prediction game, but I will riff on some ideas inspired by recent events. Some of these are a bit fabulous, but bear with me: what is coming could wind up being much more strange than these vignettes. (Numbered but not ordered in any particular way.)

  1. Work chat will continue to dominate the market for enterprise ‘collaboration’, and AI-based ‘team members’ with deep learning skill sets will become commonplace, building on chatbot models of interaction but assuming larger roles in project management, development, marketing, and HR. Slack is acquired by Amazon for $35 billion, and loosely integrated into AWS.
  2. The hottest business trend of 2017 will be AI-based ‘driverless management’, displacing Holocracy and other management ‘business operating systems’ fads. AI will play a significantly larger role in areas that human cognitive biases are most problematic, like hiring and promotion, decision support, and ensuring diversity, equality, and well-being in the workplace. (Daemon (via Daniel Saurez) meets the workplace.) Several unknown start-ups will lead this new exploding sector.
  3. Following Trump’s proposed withdrawal of US supporting NATO troops in the Baltics and Eastern Europe, Vladimir Putin’s Russia will occupy some part of the Baltics, like the Latgale region of Latvia, which is ~40% ethnic Russian. Mike Pence resigns as Vice President following major disagreements with Trump on the Baltics and NATO. Trump nominates Elaine Chao as Vice President, his Secretary of Transportation, and she is appointed in October, the first woman and first Asian American to serve in that role.
  4. North Korea will fire a rocket that hits Kodiak Island in Alaska, although it carries only a conventional warhead. Kim Jong-un says the rocket was supposed to have crashed in the ocean before landfall, but many believe it was on track to hit Anchorage. 
  5. Trump raises massive trade barriers to Chinese goods, sparking a trade war that damages both countries’ economies. This is in part because of an inability to get China to – in effect – take control of North Korea, but also as part of an attempt by US and European companies to make China’s markets more open: a second Opium War. 
  6. Britain begins that actual process of Brexit in mid 2017, leading Scotland to a referendum in favor of leaving the UK and applying to the EU for membership.
  7. The US Congress will pass legislation in early 2017 to repeal Obamacare, but defers any implementation until 2018 at the earliest, because they can’t agree on how it will be replaced or by what approach. Trump proposes a single payer system as a companion to a radical restructuring of the tax code, as he had hinted in his campaign, and falls into open discord with the establishment wing of the GOP. 
  8. Driverless car fleets are rolled out by various car companies (Ford, Chrysler, Tesla, etc.) and car hailing platforms (Uber, Lyft, etc.). Car ownership in major urban areas continues to decline, and many municipalities create partnerships with fleet owners to augment conventional mass transportation solutions. The value of New York City taxi medallions drops over 75%.
  9. Amazon will buy Snapchat, and announce a new take on augmented reality glasses, picking up where Google dropped the ball years ago. Building on the success of Alexa-based Echo devices, Kindle, Fire TV, Amazon Prime, and the growing popularity of Snapchat, Amazon Eyes are the hit of Christmas 2017, with over 50 million ordered in November and December.
  10. The war in Syria comes to a Korean War-like end, with a partition of the country into various regions, and a unceasing belligerence on all parts. It is clearly a shadow war between factions backed by the West, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, and Russia. The stalemate here is a reflection of the reappraisal of loyalties and goals of the shadow players, more than the aims of the Syrian government and the insurgents. Bashar al-Assad rules a rump state of western Syrian, with much of the rest of ‘Syria’ in shambles.
  11. Hillary Clinton files for divorce from Bill Clinton in March 2017, and assumes the role of president of Harvard University, two weeks later.
  12. Marine Le Pen loses an unexpectedly close run-off with François Fillon, but the close election pulled Fillon and his Republicans farther right than in recent decades.
  13. Oprah announces that she intends to run for President in the next election.
  14. Angela Merkel narrowly wins reelection, after wide-spread controversy of scandals uncovered by leaks generally attributed to Putin’s brigade of hackers.
  15. Barack Obama joins Andreessen Horowitz as a partner, and leads a round funding AdjectiveNoun (fictitious, note), one of the most promising ‘driverless management’ startups. He also comes out in support of Oprah Winfrey’s candidacy.
  16. Microsoft acquires Salesforce for $75 billion. Marc Benioff leaves to run philanthropy (amid discussions of political ambitions).
  17. Apple acquires Tesla for $75 billion. Tim Cook announces retirement, Elon Musk becomes CEO.
  18. Despite inaction by the US Federal Government, and chaos in the EPA and Energy Department, CO2 levels continue to fall worldwide. Environmental groups suggest that we may have turned the corner on energy in 2017, because solar is now cheaper than other energy sources in most places in the world. However, global temperatures continues to rise, and many models show that it might take 1000 years to reduce global temperatures.
  19. California and San Francisco, with support from Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, and other platform companies, announced a project to convert increasingly unneeded parking lots to small ‘park villages’ with dense, micro-apartment developments, for low-income and homeless residents. Trump-sponsored infrastructure funds are directed to US micro-building factories and a new California Construction Corps, which is strongly supported by both Democrats and Republicans. The state’s program is seen as a blueprint for the rest of the country.
  20. Michael Bloomberg announces plans to create a third ‘Pragmatist’ party, based on economic conservatism and social liberalism, and rapidly attracts a large minority of GOP and Democratic legislators in Washington who have been whipsawed by the 2016 elections, and by the growing discord in both major parties over the future of their platforms. Some project that the Pragmatists could gain as many as 30% of the seats in the House, and as many as 10 governorships in coming years. Bloomberg announces his plans to run for President.

This is how you write predictions.

Edit: I did not write these predictions – it is a reblog of Stowe Boyd. Seems to be some confusion around this. I just liked them!

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