One sure prediction is that the new year will bring a slew of predictions, some glowingly optimistic and some confidently pessimistic. I’ve sifted through the predictions in the digital world, and here’s my summary, plus a New Year’s gift.
As the use of big data, algorithms and the digital technology has evolved artificial intelligence has moved from the esoteric into real world.
It turns up in marketing, with a series of caveats. It’s behind an app to identifying snakes, with caveats about what that does for our relationship with nature. It’s contributing to how we brew beer and AI is what makes chatbots smart enough to be helpful.
The Webby Awards Trend report notes that we still trust humans over AI, but I suspect we’re not always aware of where AI impacts our lives. We will see more practical adaptations of AI in 2018.
I like the idea of virtual reality, but my experience so far has been that it doesn’t add enough to my experience to compensate for the awfulness of the headset. Frankly I’d rather read a book and imagine the worlds. So the story-telling in VR needs to improve, and the devices need to get better.
So far the biggest use seems to be in gaming but even there users are underwhelmed, the Economist reported in December that VR has failed to live up to it’s hype, and added that there is a “distinct whiff of urgency in the air” as VR struggles with poor equipment and unsatisfactory content.
The devices are starting to get lighter and prettier, however they’re still relatively expensive.
Blockchain is the technology behind bitcoin and other crypto-currencies, it has other uses in making digital information exchange more trustworthy.
- Estonia has piloted an e-voting system for shareholders, which Nasdaq deemed successful.
- The United Nations World Food Programme is testing it as a way to distribute aid in refugee camps.
- One agency, Truth, is bringing transparency to media buying
- Ensuring traceability of food supply to ensure food safety
- To enable peer-to-peer sales of energy
- New York is using blockchain to manage digital identities of homeless people
We’ll see these tests scale more widely along with more novel uses, I’m sure there are smart people out there looking at how blockchain could be used more broadly to securing our online identity.
Bots get a lot of bad press, they were exploited in the 2016 election and throughout 2017 to deliver false information to a screen near you, eroding reasonable debate and internet freedom according to Freedom House reports.
However due to advances in AI bots are starting to get better at customer service than humans. Will 2018 be the year we pass the Turing Test on a help-desk call?
Companies spend increasing proportions of their IT budget on cybersecurity and introduce restrictive measure to protect their data (USB sticks are frequently banned for example), 2018 will be the year of innovation in cybersecurity as companies struggle to reassure customers that their data is safe.
Social media will become even more commercialised, expect more of those ads on Instagram, and more promoted posts – and more ways to promote content – on all platforms as the pressure increases for the platforms to be profitable and for company use of social media to demonstrate a return on investment. This won’t be pretty.
On the plus side we’ll see more tweaks on the platforms to encourage engagement; expect more platforms to adapt the Facebook emoticon model, and more uses of video and live-streaming.
My New Year’s Gift
In an attempt to be more consistent with my blog posting I developed a content calendar, I’ve added the various “International Day Of…” dates that might be useful along with a few significant birthdays and events. I’ve added a few content ideas, and I’m sharing the framework so far in case anyone else finds it useful.
As we say farewell to 2017, here’s a reminder of what the world thought was worth searching for – it’s a two minute film from Google based on search data. It’s like a time capsule of the year.