2017 was the year of the bitcoin boom and an unexpected US inauguration. What will be 2018’s defining moments? Will it be the year we see the foundations for a dramatically different life being laid down? From AI-based relationships to urban megajungles and Big Data Brother, let’s take a look at what will be on our minds this year.
Recycled sneakers made from ocean plastic that end up back in the rubbish will soon be out of fashion again. What is fashionable is the synthetic book that can be printed again and again. Visions such as eco-leasing – where the customer no longer buys but rents products and returns them to the merchant – could become a reality. Allcycling follows in the footsteps of re- and upcycling for which there are pioneers all over the world. It won’t be long before IoT and machine to machine technology evolve to make the process of allcycling more effective.
Two thirds of the world’s population will be living in cities in the future. The mega cities cover only about two percent of the earth’s surface while using 75 per cent of the energy needed across the globe. To provide a better quality of life on less space, everyone has to work together: collaboration will be key to economic and ecological success in the ‘ecopolis’. New technologies for energy production will be integrated into the city, private homes turned into small power plants, energy delivered exactly where it is needed through the Smart Grid. Landscape urbanism will turn concrete blocks into green oases to deliver better air quality and make for a more aesthetically pleasing environment in tandem.
Digitisation has captured all aspects of our lives – now it’s our emotions’ turn. Machines in the shape of seals are already used for therapy, the Japanese would rather have robots care for them when elderly than humans, and the first intelligent sex robots are going into serial production. It won’t be long until we have the first people falling in love with artificial intelligence. 2018 will be the time to explore the acceptance of being emotionally involved with machines, to anticipate societal implications and to discuss ethical questions.
Delivery drivers are riding their tires down to the rim. More than 3 billion deliveries are made every year, and this is only increasing. Logistics companies are adapting by drawing up scenarios for the future. From Amazon Key enabling the delivery guy/gal to open the door to our home, to an underground delivery robot or a flying warehouse dropping parcel drones on the earth, the sky is not the limit. But what will be the smartest delivery solution? Will it be the self-driving postal station with a hatch for parcel withdrawal or the gig economy solution with private individuals who are on the hunt for some extra cash on their way to work? Let’s see.
What happens when Big Brother meets Big Data? When the data track we leave behind in the web is used by governments to administer us with a citizen ranking? Welcome to the centrally managed social credit system, in which our reputation depends on our societal usefulness, derived from our behaviour and preferences. Do I have enough likes? Am I following the right people? Did someone film me when I was eating Nutella out of the jar? Questions like these can affect our career, our creditworthiness, our whole social life. What sounds like Orwellian Black Mirror fiction is not so far off. We have already seen the impact that Facebook data can play on elections and referendums. What about the rest of your internet data?
Let’s see how many of these stick around in 2018 and beyond.