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Final predictions for 2017, part I

A Compilation of Additional Tech Developments in 2017


This Insights article focuses likely tech development projected for 2017 that I haven’t yet discussed in recent end-of-year Insights posts. They’re a balance of good, bad and indifferent, not remotely as negative as the expected political/social/environment changes on the horizon.

It’s a popular social media meme that ‘2016 was the worst year ever.’ Of course, whether you feel that way or not correlates with your individual political-cultural leanings. –Many historians point to years that were a lot worse: e.g., 2001 (9/11); 1968–assassinations, riots and political turmoil, the Great Depression years; the horrors of the Civil War; WWs II and I.

Bottom line — many of the challenges of 2016 will escalate in the coming year along with some entirely new ones. This will include a continuing, a growing gap between rich and poor, the slowing of economic/cultural globalism, the worst refugee crisis since WW II, intense political infighting in the U.S. and Europe, escalating effects from global climate change, as well as lone wolf and other forms of localized, hard-to-prevent terrorism. Finally, amidst such uncertainty, there is an increasing probability of leaders making bad decisions that could trigger still more unexpected/pointless military conflicts, more damaging cyber attacks, and a greater likelihood of an economic recession (already overdue according to the average length of years between economic declines).

Tech development to expect

  • The Internet Will Get Some Overdue Fixes.

Most of us rely on the internet to meet a wide range of vital needs. Anything that threatens the safety and integrity of our lives online is unacceptable. In the past few months, the biggest social media players have taken initial steps to censor fake and misleading news. In 2017, many are hoping for wider-ranging fixes to the long-standing problems of hacking, malware, clickbait, spamming, cyberbullying and trolling—consistent with the encouragement of more civil discourse. This can’t/won’t happen within the span of a year. We need to do all we can to encourage social media and other internet stakeholders to move aggressively in this direction.

  • Privacy Wars Are Just Beginning

Britain’s government recently passed a new national cyber security bill that essentially eliminates the right of internet privacy for its citizens. The measure is even more sweeping than many of those already in place in non-democratic authoritarian countries. We may experience a similar move towards tighter restrictions on privacy in the U.S., especially if/when we have another major terrorist attack. Silicon Valley executives will fight such legislation or any under-the-radar incursion measures because. This is because they rely on the integrity of their devices’ encryption to sell products and because they align with other pro-privacy rights political forces. If such a law were passed or illegal government incursions become more common, expect Big Tech to counter with still more sophisticated encryption security systems, resulting in an escalating battle with government.

  • Global Brands Will Meet Greater Regional Resistance

As globalism declines and regional markets increase, regional products will gain strength. Marketers need to understand that local populations increasingly resonate with marketing messages pitched to their cultural heritage, sense of nationalism and ethnic pride.

  • As Social Trust Declines, Workers Will Seek Refuge with Family and Friendly Work Environments

To date, there has been a steady, incremental increase in workers working from home. This trend may accelerate in 2017, however, primarily because of our growing political divide in the U.S. People will be looking to escape from individual and collective/internet sources that trigger their anger and insecurity.

Traditionally, the family can be a place of refuge from what people perceive as a hostile world. Traditional cultures see it this way. A friendly work environment can do the same. It’s unlikely, of course, that we could return to the multi-generational extended family environments of past generations. At the same time, as the proportion of single-family households grows, it’s likely that more socially isolated individuals will reach out to online political movements that allow in-person local participation.

In Part II of this article, I’ll discuss predictions of a coming shortage of construction industry workers, the growing role of corporate giants in promoting positive social change, internet-based medical industry treatment innovations, and professional credibility increasingly based more on proven skills than formal education.

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