TechMunch: Six predictions for tech in 2017

Goodbye 2016.

And good riddance!

Don’t get me wrong, 2016 had some bright spots. There were great moments like the Queen’s Jubilee; Mo Farah winning his fourth Olympic gold medal; Michelle Obama’s powerful pre- election speech on female empowerment; and the Pokemon Go craze.

But for many of us, 2016 will be best remembered as the year when the US and Europe took a dramatic right turn. Brexit and the US Presidential election dominated the conversation and has left us all questioning the status quo. It’s also, coincidentally, been the year of an excessive number of high-profile celebrity deaths (Prince, I’ll miss you most of all). And the year the polar ice has been stubbornly slow to freeze.

The die has been cast for 2016, for better or worse, and we’ve no choice but to get on with things.

So, as this is the last Tech Munch of the year, I’ve decided to take a page out of Tech PR 101 and draft my very own 2017 predictions.

Lest you check back in with me next December to remind me that nothing turned out the way I’d predicted, I’ll rest easy knowing that no one could have predicted the events that shaped 2016.

2017 Tech Predictions

  1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will move into our homes. AI has never held great appeal for me. I genuinely don’t want my refrigerator ordering my milk, but I know plenty of people who do. And even I can see the benefits of a thermostat that turns itself on and off as you need it or a washing machine that can stop me from shrinking another wool jumper. These capabilities exist today and in 2017 they’ll become integrated into our homes.
  2. Augmented reality (AR) will change the way we perceive the world. In some ways, AR got a bad rap in 2016. Yes, Pokemon Go brought the technology to prominence. But the craze fizzled quickly and people began to wonder if AR was overhyped. Don’t count on it. The ability to overlay our world with cues and signals will change the way we learn and perceive our environment and each other. The technology will move from our phones to our glasses and will be used for much more than just fun and games.
  3. News aggregators will fight back but fake news, the yellow journalism of our age, will continue to flourish and we’ll keep falling for the click bait. The silver lining of this will be that the thirst for true news will reinvigorate the real media, mobilising citizen reporters and emboldening journalists who understand the importance of their role as corporate and/or Government watchdogs. People will decide that real journalism is worth fighting and paying for.
  4. The demand for security will continue to battle the right to privacy. Privacy had a tough year in 2016. In the UK, the Government passed the Investigatory Powers Bill (aka the snooper’s charter) which grants it extreme surveillance capabilities. In the US, the Government changed the rules around warrants legalising unprecedented hacking powers. Privacy advocates will fight back in 2017 but concerns around data hacking may see the Government attempt to extend these powers even further.
  5. In a response to concerns around privacy, tools that maintain anonymity will grow in popularity. These include TOR which enables anonymous communications on the dark web, secure search engine and email service StartPage, and encrypted messenger service Signal.
  6. Blockchain will support a new form of social networking. Best known for enabling Bitcoin, blockchain will be harnessed to act as a social media tool that will allow people to communicate with each other without the need for a third party like Google or Facebook. Individuals will be fully able to control access to their own personal records and to know who has accessed them.

And finally, less a prediction and more of a hope…

Our similarities will become more important than our differences. As a human race, we are more connected, more informed, more dependent on each other than at any other time in human history. And we face massive challenges – environmentally, politically, socially and economically. Many of these challenges can only be solved with global participation. Technology is creating its own share of problems but it’s also given us the means to work together to build solutions. So, here’s to technology bringing us closer together to make the world a more compassionate, equitable, safer place to live. On that note, it probably makes sense to give David Bowie (and John Lennon) the final word.

Tracey Nugent, Account Director, Technology