Tyler Cowen predicts some themes for 2018.
Many of the biggest events of 2018 will be bound together by a common theme, namely the collision of the virtual internet with the real “flesh and blood” world. This integration is likely to steer our daily lives, our economy, and maybe even politics to an unprecedented degree.
My prediction is that a main theme of 2018 will be resistance. Not the Trump resistance, but resistance against technology that is increasingly perceived as adversarial.
Yesterday, I was woken from a sound sleep by a spam phone call on my cell phone. I would like to see the full weight of the law brought on phone spammers, including the death penalty. You think I’m kidding, but I’m not.
More realistically, I would propose that Congress pass a law saying that if the providers of land lines and cell phone service cannot reduce spam phone calls by 90 percent by the end of 2018, then the FCC should levy fines against them in the hundreds of millions of dollars. This stuff has got to stop.
I think that there is a large latent movement for resisting Facebook, Twitter, and addiction to smartphone apps of various kinds. Commenter Handle pointed recently to Paul Graham’s essay.
The world is more addictive than it was 40 years ago. And unless the forms of technological progress that produced these things are subject to different laws than technological progress in general, the world will get more addictive in the next 40 years than it did in the last 40.
That was written in 2010. I think the world has already gotten more addictive than it did in the previous 40 years. Maybe there will be a market solution. Maybe just a widespread consumer rebellion. But the issue is bound to get more and more attention.
As you know, I am bullish on self-driving cars. But look at the pushback I get from people who regard self-driving cars viscerally as a defeat for individual liberty and autonomy. The pushback suggests resistance.
Scott Galloway has become a YouTube star by sounding the alarm about the power of The Four, meaning Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple. The popularity of his analysis is another indicator of the sentiment of resistance.
Remember Kevin Kelly’s book, What Technology Wants. He takes the view that the force of technological evolution operates independently of our control. That would suggest that resistance is futile. But I still expect it to be a main theme for the new year.