Prediction hits and misses for 2021

 Prediction hits and misses for 2021

It is time once again to look back at 2021 to see what happened and how my predictions panned out.

– There were two major items influencing the IT world in 2021. One was the chip shortage and the other was of course Covid-19. My prediction about the need for a Covid passport for travel came true and for many countries is still very relevant. The Omicron variant may change that, but for the moment vaccine passports will remain.

– I was correct about the increasing collection of all types of personal data but wrong about any of the social media giants being broken up. If anything, they seemed to have gained even more power across the globe. As for the usual assortment of hardware, there was nothing other than incremental upgrades. Hard drives did hit 20TB, but only 18TB in the regular consumer market, so I’ll give myself half points. Standalone monitors via Bluetooth or wireless also became quite affordable this year. As predicted the 1TB microSD became affordable and still the biggest easily available size. While 2-4TB thumb drives did appear, there were also a lot of fake ones in that range on eBay and elsewhere. Hint, a 2 or 4TB thumb drive does not cost 500 baht.

– Despite some crazy assertions of it affecting people’s brains, 5G technology spread more widely this year but not as much as I expected. New smartphones from the mid-range and up support this technology for faster data transfers, but I didn’t get a 5G connection all that often. I did see some general connectivity issues working from home but not as many as I thought. The main letdown was from applications like Outlook and Teams having multiple problems throughout the year. As expected, we did see many companies finding the work from home model works well enough to share time in the office with some at home. This helped many with office accommodation requirements and costs.

– Also as expected many small to medium companies did not survive a year of Covid, while many of the larger companies thrived. Social media giants and others doubled their revenues in 2021. The travel industry took a big hit and some airlines have either collapsed or are in trouble. I made some predictions about the Amazon Halo Band. This did not spread as widely as I expected so that prediction failed.

– Finally, as far as my predictions, the vaccine rollout ended up causing more problems than it solved and we have had more than my predicted single variant in the past year. Vaccine manufacturers had a year of stellar profits and they are unwilling to see that money train slow down. So, all in all I did about usual, a bit above 50% but not all that well, particularly with the chip shortages.

– In a trial at Brown University using a transmitter in a human brain, a patient was connected to a computer to control robotic limbs with thought alone, ie, by imagining their movements. This is very promising for those with spinal cord injuries. A private citizen, Richard Branson became the first to reach space in his own spaceship. Others followed throughout the year but that was a great achievement. So was the Mars rover Perseverance using Moxie, or the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment, to convert some of the Mars atmosphere into oxygen. This is a first step in the colonisation of Mars.

– Proving yet again that Einstein was right, light was observed for the first time coming from behind a black hole. El Salvador was the first country to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender, alongside the US dollar. Other countries have announced their own cryptocurrency initiatives to add one to their current banking system but not necessarily Bitcoin, rather a country controlled one. China was one of the first to announce this. The industry seems to have some concerns about this direction so we will see where we are in a few years.

– A piece of digital artwork named Everydays: The First 5000 Days by the artist Mike Winkelmann was sold by the auction house Christie’s for US$69.3 million (about 2.3 billion baht). This also marked the first time that cryptocurrency was accepted as a form of payment. Since we also need to include the not-so-nice uses of technology, according to a UN report the first autonomous drone was used to hunt down and kill human targets in Libya. This would be the first example of the forerunner of Skynet-like technology where an AI based system was given control to hunt humans. Plarium’s RAID: Shadow Legends won worst mobile game for the year.

– Before you do any travel, you may want to turn off Google’s tracking. Login to your account, click on your icon letter top right and then on Manage your Google account. Now click on Privacy & personalization then Things you’ve done and places you’ve been. Now inside the History Settings box click on Location History opening Activity Controls. Under Location History, click the button on the right that reads Turn off and in the pop-up windows scroll down and click Pause. This prevents Google from storing location markets linked to specific actions and the storing of information collected from searches or other activities. See how easy they make it? Happy New Year.

James Hein

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