Brexit, Trump & Elon Musk: Ten Simple Cultural Predictions For 2019

Issac Asimov, the famous sci-fi writer behind I Robot and the Foundation trilogies, wrote a telling article for the Toronto Star in 1983. Having been republished recently, the headline rang ‘Predictions in a world for 2019’.  There’s plenty the grandmaster gets wrong, he says we would all be flinging our garbage into outer space by now or that there would be a ring of orbiting solar-powered space stations above the equator. But most of what he says is eerily accurate, for example, that there will be near ubiquity of home mobile computers in our changing society, and that the transition from an industrial society to a massively computerised one would be painful and would yield automation. Something we have talked about endlessly here at 52 Insights. We thought we’d give this a try except this time with a little more wit and simplification.

Elon Musk will dig himself into a deeper hole:  After several replacements on his board and a new CEO, Elon Musk will do something even more bizarre and outlandish than tweeting the SEC implicating himself in fraud, smoking weed on the Joe Rogan show or calling the head of the Thai divers rescue effort a paedophile.

5G will be unveiled:  You think you have a speedy mobile, wait till you see 5G. We’re looking at speeds 1000 times faster than current 4G speeds. This will redefine how we live and work. Taking 5G devices on the go will allow us to enter virtual realms and apply never before seen tools to real-life applications such as IoT. It will make our current society like look like a 56 kbps dial-up modem.  Don’t we have enough tech to amuse us?

Mark Zuckerberg sweats even more: No doubt he will face a more hostile public in 2019 after a hair-raising 2018, his company will face another major scandal.  Throwing Sheryl Sandberg under the bus was just the first phase of this internal whose-to-blame crisis. Will he follow Elon in this tech-bro cleanup? Zuckerberg has said that these systemic problems of data leaks and collusion will take years to fix. The two billion members on Facebook will not wait that long.  For that matter technology companies like Amazon, Google and Twitter will face further backlash and the call to break up these trillion dollar behemoths will continue.

Major cybersecurity breach:  In an era where state actors are utilising technology for disruptive means. We can expect the ramping up of security disturbances by both America and its foes. I believe this might be the year where we move from ransom attacks to real-world attacks, potentially shutting down businesses and energy grids.

Trump enters the third phase of hell: After firing every person on his payroll several times over, he now sits in the firing line alone. Hiring attorney general Matthew Whittaker was a perilous Nixonian move that will only signal to the newly powerful Democrats to dig harder and faster at his cover-ups. My prediction? His tax returns will be subpoenaed and we might witness the last year for Trump and his cronies in office.

Fake news gets faker: In a world where simplified artificial intelligence has become more provocative and tricker to slow down. The imagery developed by this technology will become harder to differentiate between fact or fiction. Expect this new divisive tool to be used by both conspiracists to good effect and politically hostile countries. Not naming any names.  One paper goes as far as to say it will spark a very real geopolitical incident.

Climate change: A major climate-related weather event will occur. As The Guardian points out, “There is a 75-80% chance of a climate-warming El Niño event by February, according to the latest analysis from the UN’s World Meteorological Organization.” This is due to heating in the Eastern Pacific ocean and suspected to cause significant droughts and floods.

Psychedelic therapy goes mainstream: With a growing list of evidence to support that idea that psychedelic drugs like LSD have benefits for people struggling with mental health issues. More clinical trials will ensue, pharma companies and health secretaries will perhaps start important discussions.

New political movement: Similar to the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements, a new identity-based faction with a groundswell of online support will emerge in response to a scandal or downfall. It will probably start on the left and move into the public domain.

Brexit: Honestly, no one knows. And if they say they do they are lying.