Change comes in unpredictable ways, and forecasters normally only saw it coming after the event occurred.  Still, we all try to predict what will happen, we extrapolate trends, and we cling to the routines of our lives, hoping that unending change will not disrupt us too much. The illusions in this strategy towards life and politics were captured by the Italian writer Lampedusa in his 1958 novel “Il Gattopardo:”

If we want that everything remains the way it is, everything must change. (Se vogliamo che tutto rimanga come e’, bisogna che tutto cambi.)

The conservative impulse becomes revolutionary, and people with progressive or leftist views end up as defenders of conservative values. But how much do our beliefs and opinions even matter in this dynamic and transformational reality? In this post, I want to enter the forecasting game and make eleven predictions.  Let’s see how they will turn out.

Predictions for 2018

  1. By 2019, Trump will have left the White House or will be thrown out. Nevertheless, America’s prestige as a global superpower will remain damaged: the US has become an unreliable partner for other nations.
  2. The cataclysms of American politics will cause more crises because the political system is dysfunctional. 1 The US is at a juncture: Are we a democracy or an oligarchy? Either we remain a racially and socioeconomically divided country, or we implement programs that increase social integration. The overall outlook for the US is bleak, and American hegemony is over.
  3. States and governments will continue to lose influence and power in the move towards globalization. 2  Governments will have to work harder to keep up with the change and to satisfy their citizens. Good governance and honest cooperation with others remain essential to a country’s success.
  4. The European Union will re-emerge as a global leader. They will build an integrated European military force to counteract America and Russia. The European economies integrate better after Brexit, and Europe will move beyond the shadow of colonialism.
  5. Iran will finally see a real revolution, and liberate itself from the definition as an Islamic State. This will force Saudi-Arabia and Israel to re-examine their own blend of religion and political power.
  6. North Korea will be de-nuclearized, either by China or by the United States. If this does not happen, there will be a nuclear arms race in the region, because South Korea and Japan will not accept the threat.
  7. Artificial intelligence systems will mature rapidly. In the next two to three years, they will become indistinguishable from very smart humans. Expert knowledge will become widely available, and everyone will have multiple virtual assistants nearby. They become our guardians, secretaries, and counselors.
  8. There will never be an iPhone 15: In 2017, we saw the 10th generation of these magic devices reach the market, but by 2023, the format will be obsolete, because embedded AI will be everywhere.
  9. Cryptocurrencies will take off, and will become the default way of paying for things on the Internet.
  10. For the top 20% of the global population, work as we know it will disappear by 2025.
  11. The effects of our ecological disaster will tear through the fabric of many regions, especially in Africa and South Asia. Resource wars, distribution fights, and ecological damage will cost more lives in the next 20 years than both 20th-century World Wars combined.

Warning from the UN 

The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, remains a voice of hope for the world. He issued a grim warning at the end of 2017: “The globe is on red alert following a year marked by deepening conflicts and new dangers.”

“When I took office a year ago, I appealed for 2017 to be a year for peace. Unfortunately, in fundamental ways, the world has gone in reverse. … Global anxieties over nuclear weapons are the highest since the Cold War, and climate change is moving faster than we are. Inequalities are growing, and we see horrific violations of human rights. Nationalism and xenophobia are on the rise….Facing such challenges, only international unity and cooperation can now help solve these many crises.”

Statistics for this website

The traffic for this website has grown more than ever before in 2017. Here are some numbers, measured by the AWSTATS traffic analyzer:

  • The website had 205,682 unique visitors in 2017, which means that the traffic almost doubled compared to the year before. If the trend holds, we will reach 300,000 unique visitors in 2018.
  • We had a little more than 280,000 total visits, and 8.9 million hits. During the last three months of 2017, the website received more than a million hits per month.
  • I created 12 new posts in 2017 and 58 new pages. The website now has a total of 112 posts and 501 pages. Here is a sitemap. You can find a list of popular posts and recent pages here.
  • In its current form, the website is now 5 years old. It has outgrown its hosting platform, and also its organizational structure. A major overhaul is imminent, but when will I have the time for it?

Pictures from Europe

During December 2017 I visited Europe to meet with friends and family. I went to museums and Christmas markets in London, Amsterdam, Würzburg, Nürnberg, and Coburg, and below are some pictures from the trip. The full version of this gallery can be seen here.

Notes:

  1. Both Gore and Hillary won the elections by clear margins (2000 and 2016), but Bush and Trump became Presidents and led the country into chaos.
  2. Globalization can be defined as “the process of creating networks of connections among actors at multi-continental distances, mediated through a variety of flows including people, information, and ideas, capital and goods. Globalization is conceptualized as a process that erodes national boundaries, integrates national economies, cultures, technologies and governance, and produces complex relations of mutual interdependence.” Source: http://globalization.kof.ethz.ch/