What a year 2017 was. Salt Bae made us swoon, La La… uhm “Moonlight” won Best Picture, Harry put a ring on it, we couldn’t get “Despacito” out of our heads, and I couldn’t (and still can’t) afford Bitcoins and the iPhone X. Donald Trump, #MeToo, North Korea, Russia, Mother Nature, Amazon, Stranger Things, McCain, Venezuela, Xi, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Terrorism, Charlottesville, Rohingya, Catalonia, Mass Shootings, Elections… We didn’t start the fire, it was always burning since the world’s been turning.
However, and despite the seemingly obvious, 2017 was a good year for the world. Here’s to hoping 2018 is even better. Below are my predictions for the next 49 weeks, concentrating on Business, Tech and (Geo)Politics.
Big Tech’s Reckoning
The corporate anthropomorphic representation of God, Love, Hunger and Lust (Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple, respectively) continue to destroy the economy’s equilibrium (goodbye, media and retail), and politicians start to grow some cojones. The anti-trust movement comes from a 2018 senator-to-be eyeing up the presidency. We’re already seeing the early signs of grovelling to the masses in the form of Bezos making his charitable donations public, Apple bring his extra cash back home, and the Zuck writing that his 2018 resolution is to “fix Facebook” (that’s your job, mate). Come November, it’ll be a bloodbath.
Pinterest, Twitter, Snap and Buzzfeed continue to sink into irrelevancy and are bought for a fraction of their historically highest share price.
The man, the legend has a great year. He made a lot of bold choices over the past years (public transport, space exploration, renewable energy…) and those bets start to pay off after the battering many other industries took in 2017. Tesla overtakes BMW’s market cap.
Amazon buys Carrefour. Disney buys Netflix and creates the omni-channel empire other companies can only dream off. Apple or Facebook buys Snap. Expect odd combinations as companies prepare to fight Amazon, potentially to the death, with a little help from a booming economy and large tax cuts.
Crypto-currencies get kicked in the teeth by regulators and loses 50% of their value as the world becomes slightly less chaotic. Institutions pick up the slack and prices start to rise again before the year is over.
Stock Market re-shuffle
Tencent Holdings overtakes Facebook and indefinitely breaks into the top 5 of the world’s most valuable companies, while Facebook starts its inevitable downward spiral as we realise that rich kids are not immune from being giant D-bags. Meanwhile, Amazon overtakes Microsoft on its way to the top spot. We also see a return to the mean: those expecting the Dow to rise by 25% again are sorely disappointed.
Cyber-attacks become more common and more crippling. The prospect of an economy-shaking cyberattack is real, be it via the destruction of a critical piece of infrastructure or through forced transparency that cripples the credibility of a leading corporation, bank, or marketplace; or even a takedown of the internet itself. Expect more data-breaches, more sophisticated ransomwares and yet more hacked elections.
The Old Guard Accepts AI
Journalists, lawyers, accountants and bankers start seeing more pros than cons to the use of increasingly smart software. See you in 2019 for the inevitable issues this will cause (think Canuts revolts).
Global Tech Cold War
China continues its battle for talent, AI and robots against the U.S., with mixed results. The US still has the best talent, but Beijing is training many more technologists. China will continue to plow money into its homegrown research and hardware sectors, while the US struggles with less control over its private-sector top performers than Beijing. The race is a tight one.
The Democrats retake the House, but not the Senate, during the 2018 midterms and turn Trump’s White House life into a living hell. One of the strongest forces in the universe is the return to the mean, and the political pendulum is about to come back, swinging fast.
Mueller’s investigation continues and extends into 2019, unless Trump suffers from a stroke (71 + TV + no exercise + fast food + stress is a deadly combination). A president Pence would likely be re-elected in 2020, and nobody wants that — better run out the clock.
Negotiations continue, though more and more people realise they’ve just made a huge mistake. The UK gives in to most of Europe’s demands, drifts further from the U.S., and continues to sink into irrelevance. May’s political career does not survive the year.
The world learns to live with a nuclear Korea. The Cheeto-In-Chief continues his Twitter-rattling while other nations actually get things done and adapt, as South Korea has in the past month. Whoever claims The True Believer Rule could apply here has not been paying attention the reality on the field.
Ayatollah Khamenei chills out with regards to internal politics, granting more freedom to the Iranian people. He wants his regime to stay in power, and remembers the Arab Spring well. Expect no change in regional politics, though.
Syria-related headlines get rarer as the West does its best to ignore/forget the fact that it failed to act in any sort of meaningful way when faced with evil (2017 is the year I realised our moral high-ground is an illusion — see: Rohingya, CHIP, Yemen, Las Vegas…).
France wins the FIFA Word Cup. You heard it here first.
The Post wins Best Picture at the 2018 Oscars. Gary Oldman wins Best Actor for “Darkest Hour” and when taking the stage, he pulls off his mask to revel he’s actually Daniel Day-Lewis and there never was a Gary Oldman.
Infant mortality, deaths from infectious disease, and wealth inequality between the poorest and wealthiest nations continue to decline. The number of girls attending college and global income continue to increase. People continue loving each other, and keep making great TV shows. The world keeps turning.