‘2019 will be about peo­ple not tech’

Yorkshire Post - Business - - BUSINESS / VOICES - Bird Love­god In­de­pen­dent Fin­tech Con­sul­tant

Won­der­ful, 2018 is over and what a year it has been. One can hardly ac­cuse it of be­ing bor­ing. Un­less you’re sat in Gatwick wait­ing for the drones to clear. One of the ‘prob­lems’ of 2018, and quite prob­a­bly ev­ery year from now on, is that there’s so much hap­pen­ing, so much se­ri­ous stuff go­ing on, it raises the bar for what ac­tu­ally qual­i­fies as im­por­tant. And with it comes the re­sponse of ‘there’s noth­ing I can do so for­get about it all.’ So let’s do that, and have some fun pre­dict­ing what tech will of­fer us in the com­ing year. OK, here are my five pre­dic­tions for 2019.

Pre­dic­tion One: It rather de­pends what hap­pens with Brexit. What­ever hap­pens, life will con­tinue and ev­ery­one will just work round it. Busi­ness is prag­matic, we just crack on and find the way to move for­ward. So my first pre­dic­tion is that ‘Brexit’ how­ever that hap­pens or doesn’t hap­pen will be an anti-cli­max.

Pre­dic­tion Two: I’m go­ing to pre­dict that NO new tech will hap­pen in 2019. What will hap­pen is the ramp­ing up of ex­ist­ing tech. AI is on an ever in­creas­ing tra­jec­tory, China aims to cre­ate ‘city com­put­ers’ that will au­to­mate and con­trol ev­ery­thing. AI is go­ing to cre­ate strange feed­back loops, it learns from us, and teaches us, and learns from our re­sponse, it’s ac­tu­ally a huge ex­per­i­ment ON peo­ple, rather than by us. So we are on the edge of an era whereby com­put­ers use hu­mans to work out prob­lems. A role re­ver­sal. Once AI sys­tems be­come em­bed­ded in bureaucracy we are sub­ject to them

in­def­i­nitely. I pre­dict this starts to hap­pen next year.

Pre­dic­tion Three: Face­book is go­ing to do some­thing un­ex­pected. I don’t know what. It will con­tinue to have a ter­ri­ble time with data leaks, trust is­sues, bots and fake ac­counts and fake news and po­lit­i­cal ma­nip­u­la­tions and all its usual daily grind. But I think it has some­thing up its sleeve, a new prod­uct or ser­vice. Face­book is good at keep­ing se­crets. Its own se­crets that is. There’s ru­mour of them launch­ing a new cryp­tocur­rency, but I think it’s too soon for that.

Pre­dic­tion Four: Ex­ist­ing crypto cur­ren­cies will fluc­tu­ate but no one will care any­more.

Pre­dic­tion Five: Po­lit­i­cal un­rest. En­vi­ron­men­tal cri­sis. Wild cli­mate con­di­tions. I pre­dict we are com­ing out of a pe­riod of rel­a­tive calm into a rel­a­tive storm. It’s not go­ing to be about tech in 2019, it’s go­ing to be about peo­ple. I also pre­dict young peo­ple will start lead­ing the way, maybe that’s more of a hope than a pre­dic­tion. But from a tech per­spec­tive, we have what we need. Mo­bile phones are smart enough, the in­ter­net’s fast enough, ev­ery­one is con­nected enough, so now what? I think we may start see­ing the lim­its of the use­ful­ness of tech. Tech isn’t go­ing to solve home­less­ness and rough sleep­ing. Tech isn’t go­ing to heal the en­vi­ron­ment. Tech isn’t go­ing to bring unity to po­lit­i­cal di­vides. Tech isn’t go­ing to solve the plas­tic cri­sis. Or cli­mate change. Tech­nol­ogy has only ever been a tool. We are still hu­mans, liv­ing be­ings on a liv­ing planet. I pre­dict we will need to be re­minded of this. It’s not tech that needs to up­grade and im­prove. It’s


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