1. Global Spring
Occupy-style movements and Arab-Spring-style movements (spontaneous, leaderless, self-organizing crowds) will continue to emerge rapidly in any corner of the world where the political process moves too slowly. These movements will evolve rapidly in sophistication, and some will achieve significant political results while others will be brutally suppressed.
2. The Counter-Spring
Governments around the world will shift priorities towards overt and covert control of communications and information in an effort to blunt the thrust of item 1 above.
3. America as Benchmark for Repressive Disinnovation
The United States will play a leading role in the global rollback of civil liberties, personal freedom and private communication. Other governments will make note of US legislation and will use it as a pretext to assert ever more control over their citizen’s use of the Internet and mobile communications.
4. The Counter-Repression That Couldn’t
US civil liberties groups and libertarians will unite in an effort to reduce the scope of the TSA and Homeland Security. Intrusive security will emerge as a minor issue in the election but ultimately nothing will change.
5. Twin Engines of Micro-Finace Innovation Flip the Tables
Changes to US federal law will enable crowd funding and online gambling to emerge as two massive growth opportunities in 2012. Crowdfunding will disrupt Angel investing. US States will attempt to launch online casinos to shore up their crumbling lottery business, but they will be defeated by a combination of bad marketing, socially conservative politicians and the emergence of new types of social gaming that generate credits that can be redeemed for real world purchases, not just digital objects. Facebook and Zynga will generate more revenue from online gambling than any single state or provincial lottery. Las Vegas casinos will lobby Congress to enact legislation to block Facebook and Zynga from further encroachments.
Red. Online gambling in second life will be BIG.
6. Exiling Synthetic Biology from the US Economy
The first synthetic virus will be released into the world. There will be speculation about whether this was released intentionally or whether it was an accident. The human-designed virus will cause a massive reaction of fear and panic, fueled in part by inept government response and lurid press coverage, but only a few human beings will be killed. In the aftermath of this incident, the ethics of bio-hacking will be discussed ad nauseum by TV pundits and politicians. Some ill conceived legislation will be enacted, driving innovation in synthetic biology overseas where it will advance rapidly.
7. Google+ Population reaches US Population
Google+ will reach 300 million users, making it #2 to Facebook but still smaller than QQ and other non-english social networks.
8. The Decline and Fall of the American Mega-Car
Large SUVs and large luxury sedans will be viewed as unfashionable and uncool. Smaller eco-friendly cars will be perceived as cool and trendy. The price of a used Cadillac Escalade will plummet. Hummers will become an embarrassing and seldom-seen relic of a bygone era.
9. Wired for a Drone Arms Race
Autonomous drone aircraft will continue to evolve and the price will continue to plummet. In summer 2012 an autonomous drone aircraft launched by a consumer in the US will interfere with a commercial flight, causing a flurry of speculative headlines about robots out of control and new forms of terrorism. Laws will be passed banning the civilian operation of drone aircraft above a certain altitude. All drone aircraft sold in the US will have mandatory altitude limiters pre-installed. Grey market modification kits will immediately become available via the web.
10. Mobile Viral Crime
Cyber crime will flourish. Mobile phones, especially Android phones, will emerge as the preferred vector of attack. Trojan horses delivered via free apps will contain malware that records keystrokes, logins and personal identity information and sends it surreptitiously to cybercriminals located outside the US. Worse, mobile phone malware will leverage social networks and address books to spread virally from one Android phone to another.
11. Cable’s War Intensifies
Bonus: A Future TV scenario. US cable television will lose 5% of their subscribers in 2012. Pressure will mount on cable operators to “unbundle” their basic and premium tiers. Disney and other media conglomerates will resist, lobbying Congress to protect the current pay TV oligopoly. Verizon will launch nationwide a purely IP-based video service that consists of channels and a rich selection of on-demand programs and movies over the Internet: the price will be less than half of a cable TV subscription (average is $70 today).
This will cause a massive chain reaction in the TV industry. World War Three will break out among the US pay-TV operators, as each seeks to launch a direct-to-consumer video service over the internet outside of their network footprint. They will meet fierce resistance from existing OTT services and also the direct-to-consumer offerings from major media companies. Netflix will be acquired by a major network operator.
In retaliation, Comcast and Time Warner Cable will attempt to introduce strict bandwidth caps on consumers who watch too much online video, but there will be a tremendous backlash from consumers. However, without an alternative broadband network, consumers will be stuck with cable. This issue will simmer throughout 2012 inconclusively. However, by late 2012, there will be reports of alternative means of delivering broadband to the home (via the wireless spectrum owned by companies like LightSpeed or Dish Network… but they won’t be viable… ) followed by a breakthrough that enables electrical power companies to deliver 100MB / second via the existing electrical infrastructure. in 2013, US cable companies will be under fierce assault from power companies.
Meanwhile, Google and Apple will both introduce their own version of a “new paradigm” for television viewing. Both will be novel and offer some groundbreaking features, but neither will offer sufficient benefits at a low enough price to compel a large percentage of TV viewers to switch from the current pay-TV infrastructure. Instead, these innovations will take hold among the small number of employed people under the age of 30. With this foothold, both Apple and Google will wean an entire generation away from the 60-year-old habit of broadcast television, thereby setting a timeline for the demise of traditional TV about 25 years in the future.
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