COMMENT:

It's December, and my inbox is once again being carpet-bombed with "predictions for 2019" emails from vendors hawking goods and services that, in their wishful thinking at least, will be needed next year.

I read them with the delete key at the ready but speculation is always fun.

Here are some of my own predictions, none of which will be anywhere near as remarkable and amazing as what will actually take place in 2019.

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NZ helps Huawei to survive

Chinese telco equipment vendors are having doors slammed into their faces everywhere in the world, because they're not to be trusted.

In the short and medium term, the shutout is down to geopolitically driven industry support for Western tech companies, more so than actual threat mitigation.

At some stage though Huawei, ZTE and their suppliers in China will start to hurt for real.

The reason Chinese tech vendors are not trusted is the Communist party of China; Huawei et al need to get rid of that albatross around their necks if they want to live on.

New Zealand is a good place to do business, a trusted, stable and democratic Five-Eyes country that's on good terms with everyone.

Let Huawei move here on condition that they fully reorganise and cut off contact with the Chinese military and intelligence agencies.

Kiwi-wei? Needs a better name but that's what brand consultants are paid millions for.

Such a move would elevate NZ to top high-tech dog in one fell swoop and create heaps of local jobs.

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The GCSB spooks would get a massive budget increase and outsource some of it to private eyes who could do some more exciting spying than stalking Greens and earthquake victims.

Seriously, this is our biggest opportunity ever. Please bundle off Shane Jones and a delegation to Shenzhen with all haste.

Better policing of User Generated Content

Everything that Trump touches (ugh) turns to dreck and that includes Facebook, Twitter, YouTube/Google, Instagram and other platforms that make huge amounts of money out of what you and I give out for free: our clicks, thoughts and sensitive personal data.

In return, we're actively manipulated by political extremists aided by clever Russian government meme-makers pushing social unrest, racism, anti-semitism, weird conspiracy theories, and climate change denial through bots and "coordinated inauthentic behaviour".

It's probably fair to say that politicians were happy to let things slide as Facebook and Google ate traditional media's lunch and newsrooms withered even if not much of the advertising revenue they swallowed up was returned in taxes.

Policing two to three billion active monthly users in multiple jurisdictions, many of which are software bots and spread around the world, sounds like a challenge. Photo / AP
Policing two to three billion active monthly users in multiple jurisdictions, many of which are software bots and spread around the world, sounds like a challenge. Photo / AP

But, the internet-published inauthentic user-generated content resulted in the Trump presidency and Brexit, and Russia flipping elections, which is arguably going too far.

Smarter technology (and to be fair, both Facebook and Google do some amazing things for software and hardware, much of which is open source) won't be enough to keep UCG authentic and internet companies will need to hire people to do that work.

Policing two to three billion active monthly users in multiple jurisdictions, many of which are software bots and spread around the world, sounds like a challenge.

Ditto ensuring that users' privacy is not violated by selling their data to advertisers and other companies, but I'm sure Facebook and others have it figured out in their business models for 2019 and won't fall off the cliff.

Cryptogeddon

Bitcoin started the year around the NZ$20,000 mark, and has now dropped below $5,000.

The cryptocurrency is still worth quite a bit more than two years ago, but not enough for miners to continue to buy masses of graphics card to build big "rigs" or computer systems to verify Bitcoin transactions.

Nvidia makes graphics cards and the company's share price is following the Bitcoin exchange rate down into the doldrums.

Ah well. It was good while it lasted for Nvidia and maybe they can do something with blockchain for next year?

Just kidding. Outside of Bitcoin, blockchain is still a solution with a cool name that's looking for a problem.

AI-eeeeeee!

Artificial intelligence, on the other hand, has plenty of hype left in it to carry on next year, and we'll see some amazing examples of machines doing human-like things more accurately, way faster and at a massive scale.

There should be plenty of interesting AI fails to write about too, because never forget: AI was devised by people who can't think of every single weird case like video doorbells that mistake faces painted on courier and tradies' vans for real people.

Expect plenty of AI train wrecks (no actual ones involving self-driving trains I hope) as algorithms struggle to make sense of a complex and changing reality in 2019.

I could go on but summer awaits so happy holidays, and see you next year.