Predictions are easy. Anyone can make one. But doing it successfully for 10 years is hard.
That’s why I’m always so interested in what analyst and author Mark Anderson, CEO of the Strategic News Service, has to say when he releases his annual predictions. He’s had a 94% success rate – continuously – for the last ten years. And last week he released his 11th set of predictions at a dinner in New York City.
As is his want, before jumping into the predictions, Mark gave an overview of some of the key trends he sees driving the world next year. He first concentrated on four mega-trends that will impact virtually everything:
- Global Warming: The ship is sinking, warned Anderson, and now is the time to patch the hole in the ship. The cost may be high, but “what’s the price of a planet”? This needs to get solved, and now, finally, the world is waking up to it
- The Price of Oil: Anderson was the first (and he claims the only) one who called the $40 barrel of oil last year. “It’s not going back up”, he insisted, “EVER AGAIN”. In 2016 oil will be between $40 and $50 a barrel, and that’s great news for almost everyone except oil producers.
- China Crash: Back in May, Anderson predicted that the Chinese economy was going to crash hard. And right after that, it did. But unlike Fed chair Janet Yellin, he still thinks China is a mess. “They have overstepped with too much goosing of the economy”, he warned, “and now it’s time to pay the piper”. The Chinese economy will continue to collapse, and “just because it is in slow motion, that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.”
- War and Surveillance: “What’s the evolutionary consequence of war?”, Anderson asked the crowd. “To make your enemies perfect”. And that’s what’s happened in Syria and Iraq. The leaders of ISIS are the survivors of so many conflicts that they’ve honed some pretty awful skills that will be unleashed on the world over the next year. As a consequence, the fight for privacy vs. surveillance is over – and surveillance won. Parisians, for example, can’t buy enough of it right now. We’ll see a lot more of these style of attacks next year – but widespread surveillance of both the physical and the digital kinds will help. The problem, he went on, is not the cameras, but the people behind those cameras. We need leaders who won’t turn those tools against their innocent citizens.
Anderson then went on to talk about key individual countries and his 2016 outlook:
- China: “Up to half of China’s GDP is based on theft and fraud”, primarily of intellectual property. Anderson has two acronyms he uses to describe what’s going on there, SAD (Steal, Amplify and Push Out), with a long list of examples, including Nortel, Cisco, Boeing and many others, and ICBM which describes things that aren’t what they seem. Innovations are not innovations – they are stolen. Companies are not Companies – they are owned by the state. Banks aren’t Banks – they are gigantic sewer pipes. And as a result Money isn’t Money.
- Japan: Everyone thinks that Japan is doing poorly, but the truth is in fact the complete opposite. Their workforce isn’t too old, instead it’s all in other states, whether it be South Carolina or India. And Japan’s multinational conglomerates all shower cash on the Cayman Islands. Japan’s GDP is far different than what its home companies actually make.
- South Korea: China will continue to target Samsung, which will turn the country’s leadership away from China
- UK: Prime Minister David Cameron has sold everything to China, Anderson explained, in part because Bush led the UK down a false road with the Iraq war. That means the US’ special relationship with the UK is dead. The likely result is that Germany will replace the UK as the United States’ special partner
- Europe: Speaking of Europe, the incredible flood of refugees will continue to define the continent in 2016. You can’t just take 12 million people and assimilate them all at once. That will force Europe to confront the problem at its source – which means focusing on Syria once and for all.
- Australia: Is on a long slow decline. They are a resource economy that’s a third owned by China. And that’s not going to get better.
- India: The new prime minister, Modi, hasn’t made the kind of difference that Anderson had hoped for. They simply aren’t going to grow as fast as many people expect – and they see themselves as in big trouble due to China’s declining fortunes.
What about technology?
Think Big. HUGE.
On technology in general, Anderson sees a move from the app-based unicorn trends to one where new startups work to solve serious problems with serious science. Forget programs that “a smart high school kid could program at home, like Facebook and Twitter” and look towards companies diving in deep. He specifically called out Amazon as one that’s moving from the easy – an online bookstore – to the difficult, including the cloud-based AWS and making engines for rockets. Biology will take center stage in this shift from “the trivial to the heroic”. Don’t expect a lot of press about these efforts until the launch, though, as five years of stealth development hits the market with a boom – and changes the world. Some of the key technology advances will come with pattern recognition computers, led by IBM’s True North efforts, and Quantum computing. The real changes will happen as these powerful systems get both an easy to program abstraction layer and cloud-based accessible to everyone – ala other cloud-based computing services.
Biology and health
Mark also predicted big advances in nutritional micro-analysis and micro-biome genetics, where looking specifically at what YOU eat, and what bacteria is living in your gut, are powerful keys to health and well-being. There’s a new understanding that the body is an ecosystem, where 90% of the cells aren’t you – but are foreign invaders, helpers and bystanders.
He then went on to deliver his 10 predictions for 2016, which as I said at the top, typically have a 94% accuracy rate. These were:
- Mobile Retail Purchasing Explodes. It will grow by 30-40% in 2016. Phones are good for some things and not so good for others, but they are very good for buying things – often while you are looking at them in someone else’s expensive bricks and mortar store. All of which begs the question: When will someone notice that mobile ads don’t work?
- 3D Printing Goes Mainstream. With a little help from materials such as doped polymers, graphene, and companies like the new HP, 3D printer manufacturing moves from hobby markets to high end manufacturing markets.
- Pay by Phone Takes Off At Last. With Africa in the lead for once, and thanks mostly to ApplePay, pay by phone will now become a true commercial standard, gaining common vendor and user acceptance on a global basis.
- Cyber InSecurity Dwarfs Cyber Security: China will likely continue its cyber thefts of crown jewel IP. Pfishing and “watering hole”exploits will ramp exponentially in effectiveness and scale, as data from personal ID sources (such as medical personnel files) is munged with IP target data. No website is safe, no email secure, as criminal enterprises and theft nations do what they wish on the Net.
- Drones Crash Everywhere: This year will highlight drone safety and security problems, with at least one internationally-reported major crash incident, and likely the first drone/plane collision, all leading to a dramatic increase in global government drone regulation.
- The Content/Carrier Collision: An increasing number of telecom carriers shift business models, as they move directly into content and services, while software (and some content) companies continue moving into carrier roles.
- China Extends Its Tech Hardware Domination.
- Computers. Led by Lenovo, China takes the InfoMerc model more deeply into the PC world, simultaneously creating and dominating a low-end laptop market (in the $100 – 200 price range) and doing serious damage by selling at half price to the middle market. With the same past conquests in smartphones, low-end servers, and now laptops; what’s left? Which leads to:
- Chinese Chips. 2016 will see ramped aggressive steps by the Politburo Standing Committee to build a global chip market presence. Expect more IP thefts, company purchases, and forced IP disclosure in this targeted sector.
- Yay! Handheld IA’s finally work!. Hound and Viv make our newest Internet Assistants truly personal, effective and exciting again, at last finding a permanent place in commonly used apps.
- Space Goes Private: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Paul Allen and Richard Branson turn the page on space commerce, as private launches and commercial space offerings dominate the news, a trend that will never be reversed.
- The EU Wins on Data Privacy, forcing US and other non-EU e-commerce providers to locate servers in the EU (i.e., Germany) – and, soon, everywhere that matters. The Cloud becomes Balkanized.