10 things in 2016

I’ve been reading through many of the ‘coming in 2016’ articles in the press and on the blogosphere. The focus was mostly on political and economic risk, and on the obvious big threats ranging from Putin to various ailing economies (South Africa, Italy, Russia). Such articles tend to miss the impact of the cultural and the politico-cultural, and are often blind to game-changing progress in niches like agriculture (farm-bots and agri-drones). But I also noted some sparks of optimism. In no special order:

1. In 2016 we finally start to wake up to the threat of serious cyberattacks and cyber-espionage against the west. And individuals and business start to realise that everyone has a part to play in our defence.

2. Many well-managed African economies take advantage of various global factors to zoom further up the growth league tables. Such as all-time low oil prices / increased resource extraction at good prices / better global trade arrangements / growing populations. The same factors may help the re-emergence of various moribund economies in South America.

3. In the face of the severe and growing skills shortages employers start to pay better wages and to recruit in a less youth-centric way, in particular luring back the skilled and savvy over-50s who were discarded during the recession. Over-50s recruitment happens beyond simple low-level retail jobs.

4. Stealth taxes on allegedly ‘unhealthy’ foods are found to be unpopular with the electorate, and are effectively placed ‘off the menu’.

5. The UK really does vote to leave the European Union.

6. More and better methods of energy efficiency in power distribution and storage. In the home energy-saving finally starts to get serious for desktop gaming PCs and consoles (a big energy hog, with the average console using more energy than your fridge) and without impacting on game performance. People stick with the everyday energy-saving habits they developed to save money during the 2007-2014 recession.

7. Facebook for Work is a success. Large economic benefits accrue from its use, once it gets integrated into the workplace.

8. Really useful Microsoft HoloLens applications start to appear by the end of the summer — the dev kits having been in the hands of developers since the spring.

9. The American political race for the Presidency turns out to be a fairly decent and intelligent one, once the front-runners are decided. Some hope

10. The facts on which rational optimism is based continue to seep through growing cracks in the immense sea-wall of ignorance.