A Futurist’s Predictions for 2019

Every year I close it out by taking stock of what’s happened but also looking towards the next year. Will it be cool? Will it be weird? It seems like the time of year to start talking about what 2019 will hold for us. Please enjoy my predictions.

Brands will continue to polarize

As the world becomes more polarized, so will brands. People want to feel things before making purchasing decisions… Value-based marketing will far surpass branding-style or generic platitude-filled marketing messages. Expect more companies to follow Nike’s lead on elevating polarizing figures and ethical issues in order to insert themselves into the conversation. In this internet era, we’re more connected and passionate (ragey) than we’ve ever been.

Influencer measurement

Influencers will find in 2019 that the party isn’t over, but it’s evolving with the meteoric rise of micro-influencers. Companies are going to do more to measure the effectiveness of influencers. Payless just brilliantly trolled a group of influencers and it’s refreshing in more ways than one. The era of influencers taking themselves so seriously is over (at least I hope so).

Ocean vs. Space

The world’s leaders in science and philanthropy start to more heavily debate saving the ocean vs. exploring space. There’s been an increased interest in Mars recently and for good reason, but what about this unknown world we haven’t fully explored right on our own planet? After seeing science fiction legend Kim Stanley Robinson speak on a panel recently, he kind of blew my mind. He asked quite innocently what would happen if we pumped ocean water into Antarctica to create more ice? Wow. Is this a thing we’re looking into or have we already decided that Mars is better? Regardless of where you land (pun intended), I think it’s worth a gander at how this debate will heat up in the coming years.

Machine creeps

We will have an ethical crisis in machine learning as the technology creeps further into our lives, so will our concerns about it. Fear becomes pervasive when understanding isn’t there, so many folks fear AI as a rule because they see the elimination of jobs, etc. The only jobs AI will eliminate in the next 2 to 5 years will be repetitive tasks, ones that humans probably don’t even LIKE doing. There aren’t many jobs for horse buggy operators or milk men anymore and humanity did just fine. As technology evolves, so must our weird hangups about it.

Weird Side Note: There’s a lot of “fake” Machine Learning out there. Ever hear about Mechanical Turk? It’s Amazon’s way of letting ordinary people do data entry for what a computer would normally do machine learning for.

Video vs voice

Video chat messages will become more popular than voicemail. Nobody liked voicemail in 2018, but video messages will surpass voice in the very near future (if it hasn’t already). Big companies like Amazon and Facebook are selling hardware to more easily facilitate video communications and they aren’t doing it for their health. They see the interest combined with market viability and have jumped in feet first.

Good-bye Operating Systems

The same way javascript ate the desktop, the browser is about to swallow the operating system. Why do I think this? Your virtual machine is now your actual machine. In the technical sense we’re already running C on C. Think about it:

a) web assembly

b) Chromebooks (now running Android…)

c) phones

d) potentially distributed….

Facebook has become the establishment and the kids hate that

Facebook’s numbers will continue to decline as Instagram rises. People mostly know that Facebook owns Instagram, but there’s a fantasy that keeps them from acknowledging it. Instagram’s candy-like draw with a touch of Twitter-esque tagging is not going to go away any time soon. Twitter will probably get even weirder as bots get better and the world becomes more polarized politically,, but mostly stay the same. A wise man told me once that the status quo preserves itself, I don’t buy into that whole hog, but I do believe that social burn out is the greatest threat to Facebook- in addition to general malaise.

I know we are flirting with disaster, but we wanna look good too

Disaster chic becomes a thing. Anyone who has attended the infamous burning man festival knows about artfully dressing in hazardous conditions. Unfortunately, with an increase in natural disasters, such as the California fires of 2018, most people in the golden state will not be able to erase it from their memories. Disaster chic is going to become a thing and it’s disturbing but probably true. People are already sporting paisley, polka dot and fashion-y PM 2.5 masks. I’ve even seen bulletproof backpacks being sold on Amazon. Companies are going to capitalize on fear mixed with vanity, a combination that will result in this new genre. Who doesn’t want to see the end of the world in style?

Hope you enjoyed my Futurist 2019 claptrap. I invite you to agree or disagree with me in the comments!