'2017 was the year of gawk', says Oxford scholar and Regina author
Chris Kutarna, who predicted Brexit and Trump, looks at history to make predictions for 2018
The Oxford scholar and former Regina resident who predicted Brexit and the election of Donald Trump in 2016 is now casting his eyes forward to what's in store for the world in 2018.
Chris Kutarna, author of Age of Discovery: Navigating Risks and Rewards of Our New Renaissance, says the current era is a time of rapid technology changes, further population growth and the emergence of new global leaders.
"Every generation believes that it is special — but, actually, this time it's true," he said, adding that between 1950 and today, humanity has undergone "the biggest, fastest and the last population doubling that this planet is ever going to see."
Rise of the machines
Technology is evolving at a rapid-fire rate, with giants such as Apple, Google and Facebook and artificial intelligence changing lives in the blink of an eye as social systems struggle to keep up, he says.
Of all these technologies, artificial intelligence is going to be a huge theme in 2018, he predicts. In the past, people had to learn how to speak a computer's language in order to communicate with it. But now, Kutarna explains, computers can be taught to observe humans and learn through that observation.
"I predict in 2018, we're going to talk twice as much to our computers as we did in 2017," he said. "And it sounds small, but it's actually going to be a fundamental shift from us learning to communicate with the devices to the devices learning how to communicate with us."
Keyboards and touchscreens will disappear, as people won't need interfaces to communicate with their devices, he says.
China emerges as global leader
A new world leader will be emerging as a force in 2018, Kutarna predicts.
'The United States has been that magnetic pull, organizing the world's flows. And China, over the last 30 years, has kind of been subtly bringing another magnet under the table."- Chris Kutarna
For the last 70 years, the United States has been the major player in global finance, trade, economics and research, said Kutarna.
"The United States has been that magnetic pull, organizing the world's flows," he said. "And China, over the last 30 years, has kind of been subtly bringing another magnet under the table."
In the last year, China has stepped up and voiced its intention to be a leader, he said, adding, that "in the same year, Donald Trump took the U.S. magnet and just pulled it away from the board."
Trump in 2018
When asked about the future of Trump, Kutarna acknowledged the president has been a divisive figure, and that populism, nationalism and xenophobia have become emerging issues.
"2017 was the year of gawk. We spent a whole year gawking," he said of Trump's presidency.
The investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election and the emergence of the Panama Papers will spell trouble for Trump, says Kutarna, but he doesn't believe the president will be impeached in 2018.
In the midst of confusing messages about immigration or crime or the economy, Trump provided clear, concise and emotive phrases such as "Build a Wall," says Kutarna — and Trump's opponents weren't ready to deal with people's anxieties in the same way, with clear and simple messaging.
Kutarna predicts that will change in 2018.
"Now I think we are ready and we have more than enough compelling resources to challenge that narrative with, I think, a far more positive and open one."