Sunday, January 06, 2019

What 2019 may bring

These two videos from The Economist list what the editors think will be the biggest stories of 2019. Predictions are always interesting when, as in this case, the source is reputable. So, it’s not whether the predictions prove to be right or wrong, it’s The Economist’s take that’s interesting. But they definitely won’t be right about everything.

The first part, above, includes glowing, breathless predictions about driverless cars. I think they’ll be flat out wrong about the predictions. Elected officials are always cautious about unleashing new technology like this, something that can kill people, and the people who elect them won’t be clambering for them to act faster. Indeed, I think it will take years before the technology establishes a good enough safety record—probably at least 10% less dangerous than human-driven cars—before they’ll start to be accepted by politicians. Besides, there’s zero evidence that people actually want driverless cars, even though transport companies obviously do.

The predictions in the rest of the first part is are less problematic, though I’m far less optimistic about global progress on LGBT+ human and civil rights in a word with expanding fascism. I hope they’re right, of course.

Part two, below, has similar predictions that will have varied results. The use of augmented reality itself won’t suddenly take off, however, I do think research into it will progress, since the usefulness of it is probably obvious when the technology gets far enough advanced. But that won’t happen in 2019, even if progress does.

The bits about Japan were particularly interesting. The upcoming Rugby World Cup has been news here in New Zealand ever since it was announced Japan had would be hosting the Cup, and not all of that news was good. For example, it was announced that the New Zealand All Blacks will be required to cover up their tattoos to cater to Japanese culture (apparently, they associate tattoos with organised crime syndicates). Since then, some relaxation of the requirements were announced, which is good: LOTS of rugby players from many countries have tattoos, and forcing them to cover up their tattoos is a bit over the top.

As outsiders, their look at US politics was good. The USA is so deeply divided politically, and the current regime controlling the White House is so unpredictable that anyone who declares they know for sure what will happen in 2020 is delusional.

The look at Europe was also good. The spread of far right and fascist politics in Europe poses a grave threat not just to the world economy, but also to world peace. An unstable Europe has caused two world wars, and if fascism continues to rise in Europe, another could be unavoidable.

The first video was released on December 27, and I thought the second part would be released on or before December 31, so I planned on posting the two together when both were posted. Unfortunately, it turned out that Part 2 was released on January 2, a time when I was too busy celebrating the holidays to check out YouTube videos. I finally checked last night, and Part 2 had been posted. Oh well, at least I didn’t count on them to meet my quota for 2018.

Predictions are always interesting, and whether The Economist’s predictions prove to be right or wrong, their take is still interesting. But they definitely won’t be right about everything.

And neither will any of us.

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