Let­ter from the Ed­i­tor: Th­ese will be 2016’s Big­gest Sto­ries in the WIRED World

The Star (St. Lucia) - - CLASSIFIED - By Scott Dadich Scott Dadich is the ed­i­tor-in-chief of WIRED.

Wan­der around WIRED’s San Francisco head­quar­ters on any given day and you’re likely to en­counter quite a zoo: hov­er­board-rid­ing video shoot­ers dodg­ing be­gog­gled ed­i­tors who are test­ing beta VR hard­ware; one of our fa­vorite TV makers com­ing in for a meet­ing; se­cu­rity writ­ers de­bat­ing the lat­est cy­ber­war skir­mish around the cor­ner from a con­fer­ence call with the founder of the Val­ley’s lat­est uni­corn com­pany; and dogs (10 of them, by my count). But this time of year, the al­ways lively view from my desk takes on an es­pe­cially elec­tric feel as we train our fo­cus on a new hori­zon. So to give you a sense of what we’re gear­ing up to cover in 2016, I tapped the hive mind of writ­ers and ed­i­tors and pulled to­gether a list of the big devel­op­ments we ex­pect to be fol­low­ing as the year un­folds. There’s a lot to look for­ward to.

So­cial me­dia de­cides who be­comes pres­i­dent:

Pol­i­tics is all about mes­sage con­trol, but Twit­ter, Face­book, Snapchat, Vine, et al. have rewrit­ten the mes­sag­ing play­book. To­day a ran­dom vi­ral post can af­fect a can­di­date’s chances as much as a sea­soned po­lit­i­cal op­er­a­tive can. (Of course, the op­er­a­tives are now on so­cial me­dia too.) How the pols grap­ple with this new re­al­ity will de­ter­mine who takes the White House.

Con­sumer-grade VR (fi­nally!) ar­rives:

Ocu­lus Rift, the Sam­sung Gear VR, and the HTC Vive will be fight­ing it out in Q1, with PlaySta­tion VR fol­low­ing later in 2016. Touted for years, th­ese de­vices are fi­nally get­ting real, and they’re go­ing to re­shape en­ter­tain­ment—from game de­sign to movies—with 2016 be­ing a “let’s see what sticks” time of ex­per­i­men­ta­tion.

The cloud-con­nected smart home takes shape:

More prod­ucts from Google’s Nest group and Ap­ple HomeKit are rolling out, and voice con­trol (Ap­ple TV with Siri, Google Now, Ama­zon’s Alexa, Cor­tana in Win­dows 10) is start­ing to work. In fact, the smart home is real enough al­ready that at­ten­tion is shift­ing to se­cu­rity. Breaches of the In­ter­net of Things be­came a big prob­lem in 2015 and will only get worse.

Au­ton­o­mous driv­ing gets se­ri­ous:

Cars (most no­tably from Tesla) can al­ready han­dle rou­tine driv­ing and main­tain a safe speed. We won’t be hand­ing over the steer­ing wheel this year, but we will be­gin the prep work: talk­ing about reg­u­la­tions, fig­ur­ing out the best ways to ap­ply the tech­nol­ogy, and test­ing how hu­mans in­ter­act with th­ese ve­hi­cles.

Elec­tric cars break out In the next year, Chevy will roll out the 200-mile, $30,000 Bolt. Tesla will show the Model 3, ex­pected in 2017. As­ton Martin, Bent­ley, Rolls-Royce, and Lam­borgh­ini are likely to tout plug-in hy­brids. Not all of th­ese cars will suc­ceed or even come to mar­ket, but they’ll all pro­vide glimpses of how this tech­nol­ogy will be adopted and how the in­fra­struc­ture needs to evolve.

The uni­corn era draws to a close:

All signs point to a day—or a year—of reck­on­ing for tech “star­tups” val­ued at over $1 bil­lion. In­vestors will soon ex­pect to see real re­turns, and pub­lic mar­kets may be­gin to lose pa­tience.

De­sign­ers move be­yond mo­bile:

We con­sume more con­tent and do more things on our smart­phones than ever be­fore. So why does Google’s VP of de­sign, Ma­tias Duarte, say mo­bile is dead? Be­cause he rec­og­nizes that if to­day’s de­sign­ers want to be user­fo­cused, they can’t con­cen­trate on just the mo­bile ex­pe­ri­ence— or the desk­top/car con­sole/ tablet/smart­watch ex­pe­ri­ence. They need to think about how peo­ple move across all their de­vices through space and time. De­sign­ers aim at the next bil­lion The growth of con­nec­tiv­ity in the emerg­ing world poses some unique chal­lenges to de­sign­ers, who will be tasked with shap­ing user ex­pe­ri­ences not just for dif­fer­ent de­vices but for dif­fer­ent cul­tures, cus­toms, and tra­di­tions. In 2016, WIRED will high­light the peo­ple and or­ga­ni­za­tions de­sign­ing with the next bil­lion In­ter­net users in mind.

Ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence comes to the ev­ery­day:

The days when AI was an ar­cane field of the­o­ret­i­cal re­search are far be­hind us. Google uses AI to rec­og­nize pho­tos, com­pose email replies, and re­fine search re­sults. At Face­book it predicts what we’ll find most in­ter­est­ing in our feeds. In 2016, with Google’s Ten­sorFlow now open-sourced, we’ll be look­ing to see what up­starts can do with th­ese pow­er­ful tools. Not to men­tion . . . Cli­mate and the chang­ing planet; cy­ber­war­fare and ter­ror­ism; ex­plo­ration of this planet and the rest of the uni­verse, with per­haps a dol­lop of hu­mans ver­sus ro­bots; health and medicine, in terms of new ef­forts to understand and cure dis­ease as well as emerg­ing diseases that are be­com­ing more of a threat; and meta­nar­ra­tives on the prac­tice of science it­self, which is in flux—how jour­nal­ism and grants work, repli­ca­bil­ity, and racism and sex­ism in the lab.

2016 - the year when tech ideas will pop on a global scale.

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