A peak into the future
A few of our most pertinent predictions for the tech and digital worlds in 2017 and beyond.
Predictions are often considered a fool’s game and rightly so. All the same, it make sense to try to foresee some of the largest and most important developments that will influence our daily lives in years to come.
Here’s what we think will shape 2017 and beyond:
1. Facebook trouble Facebook has been in turbulent waters leading up to and following the US election of Donald Trump. First it was the way the company had misreported key video metrics (and others), then fake news and Facebook investor Peter Thiel becoming Trump’s right-hand man. A more troubling trend will be that users are starting to suffer from social media burn-out and that more and more are considering leaving a platform that is highly addictive and fosters feelings of envy and quarrels between friends. Luckily Facebook owns Instagram, one of the platforms that is taking over much of the traffic that’s leaving the mother-ship. But the way other social networks have failed (MySpace, Friendster), Facebook is ultimately very vulnerable to user-dissatisfaction and the simple lateral shift to another app. We predict that Facebook will face more serious trouble in 2017 and that this won’t go away anytime soon. Unlike Google, which is becoming a fully vertically integrated conglomerate, Facebook is associated with a recent cultural trend and could go under in a backlash that is certain to come. The more the network tries to lock users in the higher the chances that they will ultimately leave.
2. Workers against robots If the former working and middle classes of the West have been disillusioned with their lot after ‘the end of manufacturing’, that’s just a foretaste of what’s to come once many more jobs start being taken over by robots. With the revolution of self-driving cars and drones, the last strong-hold of the working classes in the West will disappear. When no one’s needed to drive or deliver the goods that we buy online, then no-one’s going to have much money to buy these goods. What will everyone be doing? Where are jobs being created by tech and digital and not taken away? The US election of Donald Trump was to a large extent a clear message to Silicon Valley: we don’t like what you’re doing to our country. The political and cultural fall-out of a move to robotisation is far from understood, apart from the fact that we know it will be messy.
3. Casual and precarious workers unite The internet in its earlier days was a great tool for organising social protest and gathering people of like interests. According to The Guardian (link: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/28/zero-hours-contracts-temporary-work-fight-organised-union) casual and temporary workers of the world might use the same old tactics going forward, organising across industries and countries, finding common ground in an economy that has taken away job-security.
4. Companies will start to allow really flexible working (hopefully) The flexible work-environment has long been a buzz-concept in the West. People were supposed to become more autonomous and do their work where and when it made more sense to them and their co-workers. But so far the flexible world of work has been a step too far. Old forms of herd-mentality have kept demanding that people clock in and sit a desk in an office more or less arbitrarily placed. We hope and foresee that the real flexible working set-up will start to become more normal in 2017 and in the years to come. Companies who don’t follow this trend will lose their workers to companies who do.