In keeping with the BuzzFeed nature of blogging and the proud tradition of procrastination irretrievably associated with this blog, we will fearlessly predict fifteen things that might, could, should occur during calendar 2015, even though well over one-sixth of the year has already passed us by. So after consulting my Magic Eight Ball®, Ouija® board and Googling® “things that might occur during 2015”, here goes:
1. If I hadn’t procrastinated, I would have predicted that Ross Ulbricht, a/k/a Dread Pirate Roberts, d/b/a Silk Road would be convicted and I would have had at least one prediction be accurate. However, since that occurred before I got off my keyboard and wrote this, I will just predict that he will appeal and some of his convictions will be reversed and/or he will strike a plea bargain to reduce the amount of jail time that he faces. He’s such a young guy that he will still have plenty of time to get into other trouble when he gets out.
2. Sixty percent (60%) of all websites and addresses will experience a hack or attempted hack. This is not a stretch, as this has been the average over the past few years. The cost of responding to a breach will exceed $200 per record in the U.S. On average, each person in the U.S. will receive two notifications of breaches and 33% will take no action after receipt. The three states that don't have breach notification laws (Alabama, New Mexico and South Dakota) will pass some version. President Obama will suggest a national breach notification standard. Republicans will threaten to shut down the Department of Defense if he does anything by executive action. Congress will take no action. President Obama will make a statement favoring oxygen. Eight Republicans will suffocate.
3. The Supreme Court of the United States, after failing to rip insurance from 8 million people because of a typo, will grant certiorari to the Google/Oracle kerfuffle over APIs and we will be left with the spectacle of having some people who were born before telephones were prevalent (although younger than the Rolling Stones) try to determine whether interfaces will be subject to copyright.
4. The internet of things (“IoT”) will be the most hyped buzzword and will be attached to everything that has a wireless internet connection or that is hardwired into the internet and will include your refrigerator, air conditioner, automobile, FitBit, phone and clothing. The most intimate details of your life will reside on the cloud (the most hyped buzzword of a few years ago) and will be hacked and someone in Kazakhstan will know whether you need to buy more mayonnaise.
5. Big Data will be another over hyped concept and will be applied to any amalgamation of large data bases. Algorithms to sort this data and apply it will be developed so that advertisements for mayonnaise will come up on your browser after the hack described in 4 above.
6. Another result of big data amalgamation and parsing will result in the ability to do much more genome sequencing. More and more data will be available about genetic traits and inherited characteristics. Methods of manipulating those traits will begin to be developed. Designer babies will become a possibility. The use of steroids, amphetamines and other performance enhancing drugs will become obsolete in the future as children that have been “optimized” for athletic success will reach the age of competition and X-Men-like debates will dominate sports talk radio. The furor over Barry Bonds will seem quaint.
7. New methods of security for personal devices and premises will be developed and more widely used. One of these will be finger vein authentication, which will be safer, easier and more portable than fingerprints, retina scans or other methods. The NRA will object because identifying someone’s trigger finger will definitely be the next step in Obama’s nullification of the Second Amendment.
8. There will be a rise in personal biometric services. Devices such as socks, shirts and wristbands and implants will constantly measure a person's physical characteristics and transmit the data to a smart phone and then to a medical provider. There will be an automated response telling the patient to eat less mayonnaise. The hacker in Kazakhstan will already know that.
9. An actor or actress will license their digital likeness rights to a movie studio where the studio will be able to use the likeness in a computer generated image without the actor participating in the filming at all. Just think of a young Mel Gibson and Danny Glover doing Lethal Weapons Number ad infinitum. I can only imagine the conditions of the licensing agreement regarding the personal conduct of the actor post license signing. Morals clauses, prohibition against drunken anti-Semitism and racism and good behavior clauses will be rampant.
10. There will be an accident involving two self-driving, autonomous cars involving personal injury. Personal injury plaintiff’s lawyers will sue all the programmers in sight. Programmers will have to begin carrying collision and liability insurance if they want to produce such cars.
11. New cryptocurrencies will emerge to compete with Bitcoin, even the several million that can’t be found after Mt. Gox lost them. None of them will catch on much because you still need a central government and an army to enforce the value of an arbitrary currency (which all are).
12. Artificial intelligence will blur the line between humans, robots and computers. More and more machines will pass the Turing Test. This blurring will bring the concept of the movie “Her” closer to reality.
13. TOR will take a hit because of NSA infiltration and detection. Something will emerge to take its place and the battle will begin again.
14. Cyber-ransom, a subset of hacking, will become a bigger problem.
15. Several cases involving the warrantless searching of cell phones of arrested people will begin to wind their way through the appeals courts. Since the holding that a warrant was needed, police will try to find ways to chip away at that requirement. The issue will be resolved in the 2016 term of SCOTUS.
None of these predictions are particularly Kreskin-worthy and will not fill us with awe and wonder even if they come true. However, think how amazing these would be if we had made them just 10 years ago. We truly live in interesting times.