The World of Tomorrow (Or Not): Five Predictions for 2018 That Didn’t Quite Come to Pass

The predictions game is never an easy one and it can go rather hilariously awry. While some guesses can seem almost Nostradamus-like, many more completely miss the target. Callum Tyndall examines five predictions for the year 2018, or adjacent to it, that weren’t quite on the money

18 States Will Legalize Pot by 2020

Predicted in a 2015 Report covered by Time

Although not specific to 2018, this one seemed worth checking in on. As things currently stand, non-medical marijuana use is legalised in eight states, plus the District of Columbia, and decriminalised in fourteen, plus the US Virgin Islands. That decriminalisation serves as a good stepping stone to legalisation, and means the legalisation movement doesn’t have to start from scratch in those states, but there is perhaps good reason that this prediction isn’t going to come true. The earliest legalisation came in 2012, meaning that it’s taken six years to just about get halfway to the prediction. It seems unlikely that more is going to be achieved in the next two years than in the six preceding, given the wave of legalisation it would require for a full ten states to change their current position.

Perhaps a more compelling reason this won’t happen, given that public sentiment could theoretically carry through ten states to making marijuana legal, is the goblin awfulness of Jeff Sessions. Attorney General Jefferson Sessions has made it one of his missions to seemingly reignite the war on drugs, with a harsh approach that we pretty much know doesn’t work. Going after marijuana operations – even those operating in states where such practices are legal and in some cases for medical use – has not been without reproach or resistance. However, while it is possible that the individual states will refuse to bow to Sessions’ federal pressure, it seems unlikely that ten of them will be able to get legalisation measures through without considerable blowback.

Drones set for $1bn market by 2018

Predicted in 2015 by the CEA’s chief economist and covered by The Guardian

Unlike the other predictions, it turns out that this one was somewhat drastically low-balling. While the US Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) guessed that we were going to hit a market value of $1bn this year, we exceeded that the very year after the prediction was made. And we didn’t just slightly squeeze past it; according to Business Insider, the value of the drone market in 2016 hit $8.5bn. PWC is predicting that, by 2020, the market will have reached nearly $127bn and even a more conservative estimate from BI Intelligence has it exceed $12bn in that time.

Drones are now a colossal business, infiltrating a multitude of industries and ever available for a quick gimmick. Whether it be for filming, racing, or just play, to say nothing of the ever expanding military applications, the drone business is booming. And while PWC’s prediction for 2020 seems perhaps optimistic, given how far, and how quickly, the CEA’s prediction was overshot, it may well be more possible than it first appears.

‘Sinister Six’ Sets 2016 Release Date, ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 3’ Pushed To 2018

Predicted by Sony and reported by IndieWire in 2014

Ok, so this one is a bit more light-hearted than the rest, but there is a unique joy in the utterly bizarre amount of confidence that Sony had in the Amazing Spider-Man franchise. Don’t get me wrong, I actually think the Amazing movies got a bit more harshly criticised than they fully deserved but, at the same time, I think it’s pretty obvious that the wallcrawler truly belongs with Marvel. So to see Sony genuinely trying to put together a film consisting of some of Spider-Man’s biggest villains, most of whom hadn’t even been introduced, is kind of insane.

Seriously, if you ever want an insight into the minds of a bunch of film execs who have no goddamn idea what they’re doing, take a look at some of the extracts from the emails about the franchise that got out at the time of the Sony leak. Marvel producer extraordinaire Kevin Feige, who had no investment in making the franchise work other than that he loves the characters, was desperately trying to steer Sony straight as they considered casting Idris Elba for the Sinister Six.

Note, casting Idris not a bad call in and of itself, I’m a big fan. However, when you have no clear role in mind and you come up with a sentence like this, “love idris but he is only good when he speaks british or maybe when he is luther”, then maybe you have no idea what you’re doing with your film.  I mean come on. And now, even though Marvel is delivering a masterclass in how Sony should have been doing Spider-Man the entire time, Amy Pascal continues to come up with nonsense about how the Spider-verse is and should be working. Anyway, Amazing Spider-Man 3 in 2018? Hahaha.

One hotspot for every 20 people by 2018

Predicted by iPass in a 2014 ComputerWeekly article

This is harder to definitely disprove, given that there isn’t a central source of consistently updated data on how many Wi-Fi hot spots can be found globally. Predicted in 2014 by network aggregator iPass, using data from analysts at Maravedis Rethink, the numbers put out stated that there would be more than 340 million hotspots in the world, or roughly one per 20 people. At the time of prediction, reporting suggested there was currently about one hotspot per 150 people, meaning there were somewhat over 50 million hotspots worldwide.

iPass itself now has 64 million hotspots placed around the globe and, as the claimed largest provider, it seems unlikely that they’re picking up the extra 280 million from a conglomerate of others. So while we may not be a million miles away from reaching the one per twenty figure, and may well do so in the next few years (Statista predicts there will be 279 million hotspots this year) we’re not quite there yet.

Password-free email accounts by 2018

One of five IBM predictions reported by Mail Online in 2013

Not the furthest from reality: the fact that developments like two-factor authentication are starting to become mainstream and various captcha methods are being deployed shows that we’re becoming somewhat smarter about cybersecurity and verifying just who it is that is attempting to access an account or use a site.

Then again, it’s important to note that a relatively simple security measure like two-factor authentication really is only just starting to become truly mainstream and the fact that we (shameless plug) launched a dedicated cybersecurity magazine in just the last few months shows that we’re probably not quite there yet when it comes to the level of online protection that IBM predicted.

Rather than being completely off-base, it’s easier to see that IBM’s “digital guardian” is something that we’re seeing, in disparate elements, to be in its infancy. We have a ways to go, and definitely a lot of reckoning to do with who we trust with the information that will likely be required to initially develop such a device, but it is possible that we could begin to see some sort of prototype within the next five to ten years. That is, if we can stop making quite so many hideously dumb mistakes with the protection of data.  

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