1) the big story of the year will be (apart from Trump) automation. Trump wants to effectively to end globalisation and bring back jobs. This in itself will be very difficult to achieve but apart from globalisation automation is making this harder. By automation I mean not just robots but also “intelligent” algorithms. An insurance company sacked 10 people the other week and replaced them with a computer which interacts with customers to offer them the best deal. Expect more of this moving up the income scale with a lot of concerned talk about it this year.
2) Following and heavily related to this are driverless cars and drones, expect to hear a lot more about this in 2017. A boon or a menace? Driverless vehicles will certainly will lay off millions of drivers in the long term if they succeed. As a cyclist I can hardly wait to start sharing the road with these. Will Amazon get its delivery drones in the air this year? This is an incredibly stupid idea and will end up killing people.
All of the automation relies on the idea of cheap limitless energy. Even if you assume that robots use less energy and laid off staff no longer commute, the unemployed workers are not going to use zero energy sitting at home watching daytime TV. Does a delivery drone use less energy than a van delivering multiple parcels in one round? I don’t know but I doubt if there is much in it.
3) The next of my new years predictions is we will hear a lot more about the idea of the universal basic income this year. Trials are going ahead in Finland and Holland with small scale trails moated in Scotland. Whilst I am a firm supporter I do not think like many of its proponents this is a solution to automation (unless you tax robots which seems to defeat the point of them). The reason I support it are multiple, but one reason is the current social security system is not fit for purpose.
4) Solar PV installation will continue to soar worldwide. There is no stopping renewables now its mainstream. This will be despite Trump trying to sabotage the Paris agreement and bring back coal and fracking. Renewable energy is becoming cheap nothing can stop it.
5) Politics will continue in its unpredictable and much more extreme form. As a push back against much of the above voters will go in large numbers for extreme nationalist parties pedalling simplistic lies. As the annual richfest starts at Davos the global elite* claim to get this but don’t.
6) Christians by and large will continue to ignore the environment and the global warming crisis. (Safest prediction of the lot).
*I would like to point out in brexit terms the elite campaigned on both sides and I voted remain. See the end of the sentence before this.