Circuits Of Imagination

2019 Prognostications

22 Jan 2019

2019 has started and just like every year over at KOPN Tech Radio it’s time to get this year’s predictions and prognostications going. Here are my top tech predictions for 2019:

Bitcoin and Crypto Currencies Will Raise Again

This raise will be pushed by developments in blockchain based applications. There has been a lot of exploration of the use of blockchain-based systems in the industry. Some examples are uses in the Shipping industry and the AAIS using a hyperledger based system to streamline state-required reporting.

As blockchain based applications become more ubiquitous, speculation about crypto currencies will also raise. More importantly, blockchain based applications will also translate (in some cases) to use cases for crypto currencies, thus moving crypto currencies back from a speculation instrument to something with intrinsic value.

The A.I./Machine Learning Winter is Coming.

Over the last couple of years there has been a lot of growth in Machine Learning, and a lot of success in that area. However, there are a couple of factors that will curb the enthusiasm surrounding Machine Learning.

One of the issues facing Machine Learning is that as it’s popularity grows, the average quality of it’s practitioners goes done. We are already seeing corporate consulting companies peddling standard statistical analysis packages as “Machine Learning” and failing to deliver on their promises. Another example of this deterioration is that with the large number of vacant “Machine Learning” position any one that has completed a Tensorflow tutorial can now call them self a Machine Learning Researcher/Engineer/Practitioner.

Another factor facing Machine Learnings growth is that (IMHO) we are reaching the limits of what can be done given our current tools and paradigms. The No Free Lunch Theorem makes is clear that there is no “Universal Learner” and the better an algorithm is at solving one problem, the worse it is at solving another.

In all, with declining quality of machine learning practitioners, the industry investments under performing and reaching the theoretical limits of our current systems, the AI/Machine Learning hype will die down once again.

The Web Will Become Both More Open and More Closed

In the public eye Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal has brought to light the enormous effects of social media on society. The GDPR has attempted to provide a solution to this problem, and at the very least has put some limits in place on social media and advertising companies. All of these forces have created a demand for more socially-concious online platforms.

At the same time, and predicting the issues currently facing online platforms, The W3C published ActivityPub as a recommendation. Since then there has been an explosion of applications that support ActivityPub, seemingly re-opening the gates to a federated, free and censorship resistant internet.

ActivityPub is just a small part of a growing trend towards more open, secure and distributed protocols and systems. The Fediverse has a Wikipedia entry and Techcrunch published a story calling Facebook the new crapwar. Socially conscious services like DuckDuckGo and ProtonMaill are seeing promising growth in traffic.

On the other hand, Snapchat is the fastest growing social network and arguably the most closed, invasive, advertiser friendly and user hostile social network. Also despite (or maybe because of) the public outcry against the harms of social media, the use of social media has continued to raise in developing countries but has plateaued in developed countries. One important point to note from that report is that social media users in developing countries are flocking to the same, closed, advertiser friendly, social media platforms that have reached saturation in the developed world.

Finally, those pushing for “The Fediverse” do not (or rarely) use Facebook and Snapchat. They have the means and the know how to setup their own mail servers and the personal beliefs to make then use Signal and travel in circles where their peers use Signal. This is in stark contrast to the majority of users who flock to convenience. The technological and social disconnect between the The Facebooker and The Fediverse will only cause the differences between them to grow.

Interactive Content Will Raise

This has already come true thanks to Netflix’s Bandersnatch, but you can expect to see much more interactive content on display in the near future. With video content migrating from broadcast television to app based streaming platforms and apps, interactivity with the viewer is becoming more and more of an option.

It’s not hard to imagine YouTube, Hulu and Amazon offering interactive options in their apps and players for their content producers. These options could range from Netflix’s choose your own adventure menu all the way to being able to traverse the scene ala. YouTube’s 3D video.

Just like video content enabled whole new media formats, like the game show and the 24-hour news cycle, interactive video content will also open the doors for new media formats as well.