At this time of year, like many people, I tend to reflect on what has happened in the previous year, and what this year will bring. In the past I’ve blogged about my thoughts on what we might see as a community in the year ahead. Stay with me, as my (for want of a better word) “predictions,” tend to be a little different from the usual crystal ball blog posts out there on the web. Primarily because of my interests aren’t just in tech or science.
First of all, I want to say that this year is going to be a big one for me. I’ll be reaching 3 decades of age in the middle of the year. Beki and I will have been married 5 years this coming August. I’m also plan to fully complete my PhD in Artificial Intelligence & Data Mining (or more officially ” Engineering Mathematics (Intelligent Systems)”), and hope to have secured a postdoctoral position by the end of this year (please do let me know if you’re interested in employing me or working with me!). I’ll also progress from Journeyman to Freeman status in the City of London Livery “the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists.” We’ll also be running the second Computational Intelligence Unconference (CIUUK15), and I hope to start planning other unconferences in 2016. Finally, I’m also hoping to progress from Deacon to Priest in my very liberal (and Science-friendly!) independent church.
Enough about me though, on to the societal forecast…
Politics in 2015!
In the United Kingdom, over the past couple of years, we’ve rather unfortunately seen a rise in ring-wing politics in the form of the political party known as UKIP. This is largely due to distrust amongst the population of the main three political parties here (the Conservatives (“Tories”), the Liberal Democrats (“LibDems”) and the Labour Party), why is there distrust? Well we had two terms of a Labour office, which saw terrorism spread, wars occur, prices of oil and housing rise, and the destruction of main party socialism (i.e. the Labour Party slowly became less and less socialist). We then, in 2010, had an election result leading to a hung parliament, the Centre-Right Tories joined forces with the Centre-Left Radical LibDems. The result of that has been more things getting privatised, the excessive rise of university tuition fees, oil prices rising gradually (although more recently falling), various things being taxed, and various other things not being taxed, it has also destroyed the publics belief that the LibDems are leftward leaning at all. People in the UK are searching for another option. Many people, unfortunately, like to blame other people, and blame is what UKIP do best (they are a traditionalist and nationalist political party with a neoliberal economic perspective). So the right-wing UKIP has seen a rise in interest. This is bad news. However, we’ve also seen a rise in support for the Green Party (which is centre-left/left-wing), as well as the SNP in Scotland and Plaid Cymru in Wales (which are both centre-left), so perhaps not all is bad.
What does this have to do with 2015? Well it is General Election year here in the UK, where the population will go to the polls in May and vote for a new parliament. So here is my prediction…
Distrust in the three main political parties will continue to rise. This means that more people will begin to move away from what the three main political parties see as the “centre of politics”, to political ideologies at the extremities. As 2014 saw a significant rise in nationalist neoliberalist agenda of UKIP. This year, 2015, there will be more hardcore socialists and communists coming to light. However, in order to combat the right wing, they will have to empathise. This empathy will come in the form of anti-authoritarianism and anti-statism, yes, we’ll start to see a rise in ideologies of anarcho-socialism, libertarian socialism, Trotskyism and anything that combines decentralisation with strong communal welfare. We just have to look at Spain and Green to see their rise in radical socialism (in the form of Podemos and Syriza respectively).
This might be slow, and it may not make a significant impact on the general election, but I suspect that by the end of the year it will be making more impact.
Politics and Technology
I would like to couple this with technology though, as something big is happening behind the scenes. This big thing originates from technology is now reaching every part of our lives, and actually making us live healthier and more sociable lives. It can be used as a force for good, and I think that gone are the times when people think tech is bad simply based on a perception of the masses watching television for endless amounts of hours. You just have to look at the CES 2015 exhibition happening at the moment, to see some wonderful things (including for sustainability of the natural environment! – e.g. the electric scooter “Gogoro” will attempt to make low pollution travel in urban areas). With this is a sense that technology really can help the welfare of humanity, this is good (because I believe it can!).
Coupled with this individualism (in otherwords libertarian) perspective living in a communal welfare system (in otherwords socialist), that I think is going to be on the rise, we will see technology fitting in very nicely indeed.
A few of organisations to look out for are:
- The Institute for Social Futurism
- Zero State
- and in the USA, the Transhumanist Party of Zoltan Istvan, who will be running for president in the next US election.
There is one word to look out for, and this is a very positive word… techno-progressivism.
Technologies and Sciences
- This year I think we will see very significant progress in terms of preventative medicine for cancer. I think this will at first involve analysing our bodies cheaply and easily before we have cancer. So that we can try to stop it in its tracks before we it even develops its early stages. I think this is likely to involve DNA and/or RNA analysis on a large scale.
- Public and private organisations will shift from just green living, and especially from “greenwashing”, perspectives into a bright green evironmentalist perspective. With particular advances in bright green architecture, but obviously we’ve already seen advances in “smart lighting” and “smart heating,” and that will continue to see uptake by organisations as well as individuals.
- The rise of privately-funded space project. Not just SpaceX, and other private organisations, but also home-builds. Think home-made quadcopter drones that can easily fly very high, maybe into space ;-)
- At least one significant and highly publicised study on the positive results of meditation will be released. It would be great if this was related to the relation between meditation and the length of telomeres, which apparently there have been a few studies on already.
- “Smart clothing” – I think we’ll start to see wearable technology on clothes in retail shops that you see on the high-street. Prices will be quite high at first, and totally unrepresentative to the cost it would be to make it at home, but it’ll begin to reach the masses.
- There might be a co-operation between bitcoins (or another cryptocurrency) and credit unions. Which would be very neat!
- I don’t think that computers will see superintelligence this year, but artificial intelligence tools and techniques will continue to be updated and improved… possibly with a bit more effort, and possibly making them a lot more polished.
These are just some thoughts. They are based on some insight, but it is all just for fun really, and I don’t in any way guarantee these things happening. Feel free to comment, or to get in touch directly.
Thank you for reading.