How to think about 2018 — predictions for the year to come

by on December 27, 2017 at 1:40 am in Current Affairs, Law, Political Science, Science, Uncategorized, Web/Tech | Permalink

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one bit:

The onset of a new year brings plenty of predictions, and so I will hazard one: 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.

For instance, the coming year will see a major expansion of the “internet of things”…

And:

But whatever your prediction for the future, this integration of real and virtual worlds will either make or break bitcoin and other crypto-assets.

And:

So far the process-oriented and Twitter-oriented foreign policies have coexisted, however uneasily. I see 2018 as the year where these two foreign policies converge in some manner. Either Trump’s tweets end up driving actual foreign policy and its concrete, “boots on the ground” realization, or the real-world policy prevails and the tweets become far less relevant.

There is much more at the link, including a discussion of cyberwar,  China and facial surveillance technologies, and the French attempt to ban smartphones at schools.

1 clockwork_prior December 27, 2017 at 2:23 am

‘Many of the biggest events of 2018 will be bound together by a common theme’ – daring.

IoT? – don’t believe the hype.

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2 Ray Lopez December 27, 2017 at 6:02 am

True on both counts, TC is daring and IoT has been hyped for the last ten years…but, like Brazil’s future, China’s collapse, or the Milwaukee Bucks winning the NBA, it’s bound to happen ‘one of these days’.

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3 Mark Thorson December 27, 2017 at 11:59 am

Virtual cats is already bigger than IoT and will overtake soybeans in 2018.

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4 JC December 27, 2017 at 11:38 am

Thank you.

IoT has been preparing for its big year for so long it’s unreal. I’ll be much bigger on IoT when they stop trying to sell it to ever possible niche market and start focusing on what it’s good at: being an enabling technology for big data.

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5 derek December 27, 2017 at 2:27 am

The internet of things has already had a big effect. Last year AWS, amazon’s web service platform that runs a substantial portion of the web went down for part of a day. An inexpensive video which connects to the internet had a flaw which was used as a massive web of attack vectors for a denial of service attack. The net neutrality folks are missing the point here; the threat to an open internet is not from some malicious service provider but the already plentiful malicious actors who are increasing the cost of internet use for businesses already. Ease of use and security is extraordinarily hard, and it will pare the field even more to a few.

Twitter will become increasingly irrelevant as a source of information. It will become a narrow silo among many silos.

The US corporate tax change will have unpredictable effects on other countries and their economies; the rules have changed substantially and different decisions will be made.

Someone will make a politically incorrect movie that will turn the movie industry around. Far cheaper and better told story. Lop a zero or two off the price of making movies and the power structure of entertainment changes.

The nature of the aspirational message will change; a new normal to aspire to will develop. I have no idea what it is, but the best and the brightest don’t seem too smart these days.

The realization that technology is the cause of slumping productivity will rejuvenate the paper industry. Kidding. But the problem will be recognized and the hard reality of too few people being able to fix this stuff will cause an adjustment in practice and strategy.

Another year of all those people who keep the world working retiring without replacements. At one point the world stops working in noticeable ways. That train crash in Washington is what this looks like.

Someone in the US will be found to have bought a slave in Libya to cut their grass since there are fewer inexpensive hispanics coming across the board. The irony of the first black President of the US presiding over a policy that led to slave markets will start to sink in. Not much though, too much emotional attachment to the idea that the color of a person’s skin establishes their value.

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6 derek December 27, 2017 at 2:30 am

Marginal Revolution will go another year without the extraordinary advancement of comment editing.

And by the way, thanks to whoever has been cleaning up the comments here. It was unreadable for a while. Thankless work no longer.

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7 Talisker December 27, 2017 at 5:26 am

The only distillery on the Isle of Skye.

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8 JC December 27, 2017 at 11:40 am

“thanks to whoever has been cleaning up the comments here”

Please let it be a slave Tyler bought from Libya. Pretty please . . .

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9 clamence December 27, 2017 at 3:21 pm

Drive southeast along Gamal Abdel Nasser road in Sabhā, Lybia until you pass the Aqaid police station. Turn right and drive along an unpromising alley until you reach an unmarked teahouse, recognizable only from the everlasting dice game taking place there next to a mangled dumpster. The slave market can be found in the basement of this establishment by following a colorful but rickety set of particleboard stairs. A good slave can be recognized by his extreme ugliness and scarring: the attractive slaves remaining in the market are sure to be defective in myriad yet non-obvious ways, while the unscarred slaves have not yet been properly seasoned (think of them as preparations of cumin beef, rather than beef stew). If it doesn’t feel wrong, you are not doing it right.

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10 JC December 27, 2017 at 9:59 pm

Now I want to see Tyler’s slave-buying guide for 2018.

11 Al December 27, 2017 at 6:15 am

Good point on the effects of tax changes. While the results will be mostly unpredictable, they will likely be beneficial top the US.

I do not think that a reduction in prices in entertainment will be forthcoming for quite a while. This is where we, as a society, are putting our funds.

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12 Al December 27, 2017 at 6:47 am

Good points on ML for video and for credit.

But you could make quite safe bets on ‘More ML everywhere’. E.g.: law enforcement (in Asia), in genetics (in Asia), in physical plant control, in manufacturing, and in autonomous driving. The list could go on.

If you aren’t using ML in your process, then you are doing it wrong.

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13 Al December 27, 2017 at 6:50 am

Oops, wrong node. Meant to reply to the main post.

BTW: I agree with your comment on security. There will be some really impressive holes found in 2018. I don’t think we have a good handle on this space at all. It is quite concerning.

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14 JonFraz December 27, 2017 at 2:44 pm

Buying a slave to cut your grass would be absurd. It’s the difference between paying someone $20/hr once a week in the growing season, and being stuck with their full support (food, clothing, healthcare etc) indefinitely.

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15 AnthonyB December 27, 2017 at 9:52 pm

Quite right: it’s the difference between a cost-efficient prostitute and an expensive wife. “The most expensive sex is free.”

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16 JonFraz December 29, 2017 at 2:25 pm

If you’re so old-fashioned you don’t want your wife to work, maybe,. But most wives do work these days, increasing household income.

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17 Anonymous December 27, 2017 at 2:44 am

I find the virtual/flesh-and-blood prediction so vague as to be worthless. Even the example:
>For instance, the coming year will see a major expansion of the “internet of things”…
Is vague to evaluation. We already have TVs and coffee machines with Internet connections. If they keep getting produced at the same rate, gradually displacing the older models, is that major expansion? Does production have to go up? Do we have to see even more novel stuff, like Internet-connected shelves, for the prediction to hold?

And that’s the example, which is supposed to be easy and specific. What constitutes failure for this prediction? :
>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.

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18 JSK020 December 27, 2017 at 2:48 am

These are not so much forecasts as linear extrapolations of whats happening now

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19 Baphomet December 27, 2017 at 3:00 am

Is there some other kind of forecast?

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20 carlospln December 28, 2017 at 4:12 am

“The future’s already here. Its just unevenly distributed” William Gibson

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21 Ray Lopez December 27, 2017 at 6:07 am

Indeed, a survey once found the most successful predictions by economists are those which simply continue the trend of last year. Analogous to the stock market, where a bull market is something like 90% of the time likely to repeat the next year (I think even after a bear market a bull market is something like 50-60% of the time likely to occur the next year). Hence “continuation of trend” and “permabull” forecasters are the most successful or profitable/popular. It takes a real genius to be a pessimist and constantly get it right. In fact, probably no such person exists except by chance due to the law of large numbers.

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22 Le_Loup December 27, 2017 at 4:35 am

You’re missing the greatest event of all: 2018 will be the last year of U.S. domination of the Internet. The E.U. –under mostly pressure of the French– will finally impose regulations that put the tech behemoths under the rule of law. This will be paradoxically made possible also, by cooperation from conservatives in America who never miss an opportunity to weaken their own country — not that the U.S. will have much say in the matter.

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23 Talisker December 27, 2017 at 5:27 am

Made by the sea. In every sense.

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24 clockwork_prior December 27, 2017 at 6:15 am

If you think the French are the main pressure point, well, OK.

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25 Liberal Sharia December 27, 2017 at 5:50 am

The internet has already brought democracy to China and the Bill of Rights to Saudi Arabia. I don’t think there’s anything the internet can’t do.

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26 Liberal Sharia December 27, 2017 at 5:51 am

In 2018, Israel will be invited to every sports tournament and chess competition in the Muslim world.

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27 Talisker December 27, 2017 at 5:56 am

Strong. A big peat smoke. But there are other aromas to be found hidden behind the initial shock of peat.

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28 clockwork_prior December 27, 2017 at 6:13 am

And of course the Israelis will reciprocate by inviting those living in the Muslim world to every sports tournament and chess competition in Israel.

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29 TMC December 27, 2017 at 10:33 am

If there’s some international event, do they block a representative from any country now?

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30 Crikey December 27, 2017 at 6:35 am

I’m starting to think 2018 will be the year Australia gives up on the internet. It’s so slow we’re rationed to like 4 cat pictures a day. Note this isn’t in Cunnamulla or Tittybong. It’s in the fifth largest city in Australia. Sure, I’ve met people who say they have fast internet that and our National Broadband Network actually works, but I’m starting to think it’s more likely they have been brainwashed than given decent bandwidth.

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31 Slocum December 27, 2017 at 6:42 am

“The next steps will be controlling our doors, heating systems, lights, stoves and refrigerators,”

The next step will be the general public and the market figuring out that most people really don’t want these things. Expect to see more articles like this one:

http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/gadgets/a26270/against-smart-appliances/

I own one of those Echo Dot smart speakers. It’s OK for asking for weather predictions and playing music in the kitchen when your hands are dirty. But no more than OK. It’s fine if you already know what you want to hear. But if you want to search a bit, see some choices, and a pick one, it’s much better to wipe off your hands and use the phone. It came with one of the smart plugs. I’ve been scratching my head trying to figure out somewhere to use it. I suggested the garbage disposal (which plugs in under the sink). “Alexa, start the garbage disposal” seemed amusing. But my wife was afraid it would turn on accidentally when we weren’t home and start a fire or something. So it’s still in the box.

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32 Just Another MR Commentor December 27, 2017 at 7:29 am

Well a major advantage of these devices is that they basically spy on you and send you conversations to tech companies who also have few qualms handing them to the government. So you’re missing out on getting better targeted ads amongst other things.

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33 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ December 27, 2017 at 8:49 am

I didn’t think I had a prediction, but in the same spirit:

Echos/Alexas/etc will be connected to an average of one light bulb.

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34 yo December 27, 2017 at 10:03 am

Is there any meaningful use case for smart plugs? All devices I know (dishwasher, laundry…) I might as well press the button since I’m close enough when I want them to start. Rewiring all the light installation seems overkill/expensive compared to just pressing a button. Same for windows and shutters, the cost of rewiring will never pay compared to spending the 5sec unless you have a huge home. Shopping/automatic refills would just produce more wastage, and I’d have to open the door to the delivery guy anyway. The only advantage would be that I’d never run out of toilet paper, but the cost for that in terms of installing toilet paper checking devices, and giving up data seems quite high. Our robo-vacuum cleaner is handy though (but not connected as far as I know; there’s no need either). It’s not 100% convenient because it won’t move the couch to clean under, but 80%. They really should build these more cheaply for wet floor sweeping too. And an android robot to pick up dirty laundry, sort it and start the laundromat – that would also be able to clean the bathroom and let the delivery guy in.

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35 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ December 27, 2017 at 10:38 am

I have to admit that a “the garage door is still up” reminder would be nice, and save a few trips per year to check.

That’s the only one I can think of.

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36 yo December 27, 2017 at 10:48 am

Industrial IoT (or at least Intranet of Things for safety) seems super helpful in many production and warehousing settings. But smart devices have been around forever anyway in industry, where useful – the relevant vendors such as Arrow Electronics or OSIsoft have been around for 40+ years. IoT is hardly news in powerplants or warehouses. I just don’t see any killer app style domestic use cases.

37 TMC December 27, 2017 at 10:43 am

How about a one unit washer/dryer that also folds when done? That’d be nice.

The only Alexa product I’d like is the light control. ‘Turn on the porch light at dusk and leave on until midnight’ is handy.
‘Turn on the porch light at dusk and leave on until 5 min after the garage door goes up’ for coming home.

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38 Slocum December 27, 2017 at 11:07 am

“All devices I know (dishwasher, laundry…). I might as well press the button since I’m close enough when I want them to start.”

Right and these things are aren’t simple on/off devices anyway (you need to select temperature, load size, etc, etc). They’d have to be re-engineered to be compatible with smart home systems (and then you’d have to buy all new appliances). And when you’d done all that, you’d still need to put the clothes (or dishes) in and take them out. Futurism at it’s silliest.

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39 Mark Thorson December 27, 2017 at 12:10 pm

The IoT will come to an end after it has its Lindbergh baby incident, in which someone takes over an enemy’s IoT devices and causes havoc. This might be a real incident or an imaginary one depicted in a movie. Either way, it will permanently cause people to view the devices with suspicion, as they should.

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40 chuck martel December 27, 2017 at 7:09 am

Yet more of the advances on the tech side are troubling, such as how artificial intelligence is being used for facial surveillance in China, and how Chinese social credit rating systems are assessing the suitability of individuals as both credit risks and loyal citizens. I expect many other autocracies to adopt similar technologies, and so “control of information” will mean “control of people” more and more.

Troubled by events in China? Those same trends are taking place across the fruited plain. Control of people is what governments do. The US has a “national identity card” fastened to one end or both of every automobile that immediately identifies the owner and likely driver, and, in seconds, the record of their relationship with the state, to any law enforcement agent connected to the internet. Travelers denied access to commercial aircraft receive no explanation for their ban and no way to remedy it. Surveillance cameras are everywhere, under the control of both private and public entities. Assessing the “responsibility” of private citizens is the foremost goal of the coercion complex while the state actors rarely bear such personal responsibility for failure or malfeasance in the course of their bureaucratic duties or personal lives.

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41 Bill December 27, 2017 at 7:55 am

To understand how we have come to accept the virtual as the real,

Let me ask you this question:

Do you “feel” that Donald J. Trump has been in your face all year–that he has been communicating with you–that you can’t have him stop talking.

But, here’s a fact:

He has only held one press conference as President. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/data/newsconferences.php

What you have experienced is one way, directed communication at you.

You have not experienced interaction with questioners, yet you feel he is in your face constantly.

No follow up. No interaction.

Just tweets.

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42 TMC December 27, 2017 at 10:50 am

I don’t “feel” that Trump has been in my face all year. I see some of the interesting tweets, but I don’t go on twitter much. What’s annoying is the avalanche of hissy fits in response to any tweet he makes. His tweets are like a bird call to make all the retards self identify.

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43 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ December 27, 2017 at 11:19 am

That is a funny comment, because it defends Trump by denying him.

He says you should read, and believe, his tweets.

https://www.politico.com/story/2017/06/05/donald-trump-twitter-policy-239156

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44 Brian Donohue December 27, 2017 at 12:05 pm

Trump’s tweets are politics, not policy. His most provocative tweets are head-fakes to distract from something else. How do you not understand this?

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45 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ December 27, 2017 at 12:21 pm

Read Tyler again. He and I believe Trump operates in a very small bubble, and tweets are the real output of that bubble:

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/940930017365778432

To be completely honest, I think “don’t read the tweets” is at best an emotional coping mechanism.

46 msgkings December 27, 2017 at 12:47 pm

To be completely honest, the stuff you think is overly triggered and concern trolly. Trump is awful, so I ignore him, and the world is doing fine and getting better. Yes, it is.

47 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ December 27, 2017 at 1:15 pm

You guys ignore the very clear big picture. These tweets are not productive for Trump. You can be super stupid and focus on me instead, but this is the real story:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/19/politics/trump-approval-new-low-history/index.html

48 Brian Donohue December 27, 2017 at 1:29 pm

I read his tweets, then I move on. Coping ok over here.

If he’s shooting himself in the foot this way, wouldn’t you just want him to carry on? Sun Tzu etc etc…

49 msgkings December 27, 2017 at 1:29 pm

What if we already know they aren’t productive for Trump, and that his approval rating is the worst in history? This pleases me by the way. What if you aren’t as interesting or useful as you think you are? What if all of your posts here tell us things we already know, that Trump is the worst, but that we don’t get feels about it the way you do?

What does ‘focusing on Trump’ vs ‘focusing on you’ mean in the context of this message board? Do we need to light our hair on fire here to signal to you that we think Trump is awful? What if we don’t care what you think about what we think of Trump?

50 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ December 27, 2017 at 1:34 pm

I think we see some real dysfunction here. Tyler makes the correct diagnoses that it is Trump and tweets vs process-oriented government.

Brian wants to try on (yet again) head-fake bullshit.

And msgkings is confused as ever. Trump is terrible, but nobody talk about it! Including now when it is very much the topic Tyler has chosen.

51 msgkings December 27, 2017 at 1:41 pm

Jeebus, stop be-clowning yourself already. Is there some shortage of talk about how awful Trump is? Including from me, and many others here?

52 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ December 27, 2017 at 1:46 pm

That is the weird thing about you two. You can’t process Trump, or even Cowen’s paragraph on Trump (repeated below for convenience). You can only see it as your turf fight with me.

As for American foreign policy, so far it has been proceeding along two very separate lines. There is the process-oriented, expertise-based approach emanating from some of Trump’s advisers, such as National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, and also from the State Department. Then there is Trump, who conducts much of his personalized, individualized foreign policy on Twitter, including threats to North Korea and insults to various allies. So far the process-oriented and Twitter-oriented foreign policies have coexisted, however uneasily. I see 2018 as the year where these two foreign policies converge in some manner. Either Trump’s tweets end up driving actual foreign policy and its concrete, “boots on the ground” realization, or the real-world policy prevails and the tweets become far less relevant.

If I said ‘Either Trump’s tweets end up driving actual foreign policy and its concrete, “boots on the ground” realization‘ would you say *my* hair was on fire?

53 Brian Donohue December 27, 2017 at 1:46 pm

“Trump is terrible, but nobody talk about it! ”

No commentary needed.

54 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ December 27, 2017 at 1:52 pm

Can you process Tyler’s paragraph, Brian? Or are you still going with “head fake?”

55 msgkings December 27, 2017 at 1:58 pm

We are processing Cowen fine. The ‘turf fight’ is you getting triggered by us not being as triggered as you. We already agree with Cowen, and you, that Trump sucks. But apparently you need us to do….what exactly? Clownshoes, man.

56 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ December 27, 2017 at 2:00 pm

No msgkings, you sad fuck.

You came in to complain about me being “triggered” when I said far less than Tyler did.

So either that is passive aggressive disagreement with Tyler, or your basic troll games.

57 msgkings December 27, 2017 at 2:18 pm

OK guy, this is way too serious for you. You win, I’m terrible, Trump will destroy us all, etc. You won!

58 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ December 27, 2017 at 2:30 pm

Again, dysfunction. It was not me, it was Tyler who worried about boots on ground.

I kind of see the corner turned on that. Everybody, including North Korea knows Trump is an idiot. More likely to me is further marginalization in 2018.

Given constant and important pressure, of course.

59 Brian Donohue December 27, 2017 at 4:17 pm

Sometimes, Tyler’s takes are a swing and a miss.

Can you process that sentence, ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ?

60 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ December 27, 2017 at 4:48 pm

I think Tyler is right that Trump on Twitter is pretty much Trump in full.

It might bug you that he ended up on that page. But that probably isn’t my fault. For those with broad and unfiltered news, it is pretty obvious.

And I don’t think you can make the case that in these specific circumstances, less recognition of that, or less opposition, is good for the Republic.

The good fight is for what Tyler calls “process-oriented” government.

61 Bill December 27, 2017 at 12:03 pm

The chicken Red Rooster should man up and have a press conference where he has to answer questions.

Do you think he can go through the next year without a press conference?

My prediction is that he will not have a press conference unless it is reporters of his choosing.

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62 derek December 27, 2017 at 2:11 pm

Why would he have a press conference? Serious question.

The media at one point represented the opinions of the electorate. Kinda, but enough that it was important to pay attention to them. That isn’t the case anymore, the whole rationale for talking to the press as a proxy for the country as a whole doesn’t hold.

This meme going around this morning sounds like the Monty Python ‘I’m not dead!’ skit.

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63 Bill December 27, 2017 at 3:46 pm

Because a President has to answer questions. He can’t be called to testify before Congress.

He is not God, he answers to the people, or maybe to Lester Holt, where he confesses to obstruction of justice,

And

Unless he answers questions

He might be

Satan.

64 derek December 27, 2017 at 6:48 pm

Why to the media? Some appointment from above that we must know Acosta’s socks or something ridiculous?

I agree that politicians must answer. But to whom? The people who voted for him can ask him questions. The media was at one time a reasonable proxy for the voting public, but not anymore.

He can also be questioned by the other proxy for the public, the opposing politicians. There isn’t an official forum as in parliamentary democracies.

I agree this is an issue. But it is an issue with a city that has been disconnected from the electorate and a media that is a mouthpiece of a faction within government.

I’m old enough to remember a media that wasn’t a mouthpiece of the bureaucracy.

65 TMC December 27, 2017 at 2:18 pm

“avalanche of hissy fits”

Thanks, all above, for the support of this comment.

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66 msgkings December 27, 2017 at 2:20 pm

It’s only the polar bear having fits here.

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67 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ December 27, 2017 at 2:31 pm

Read Tyler again, or hell, maybe for the first time.

68 TMC December 27, 2017 at 3:38 pm

I’ll give you that, msgkings, but you dance close enough with ‘Trump is awful’. There are two things here, style and substance. I’m not a fan of his style with the tweets either, but his substance has been very good. Kind of opposite of Obama, who always had the professor persona, but absolute shit policy. Overall, I don’t care much about the style. The newfound substance has been a pleasure for this past year.

69 msgkings December 27, 2017 at 3:48 pm

Actually I agree the actual actions of his administration haven’t been that bad, and some have been good. Some deregulating was needed, the tax bill was typical Republican stuff, etc.

But ‘style’ is very important, TMC. Trump represents us as a nation to the world, and he’s a total clowny embarrassment. The president also represents something to aspire to, especially for kids. I have pre-teen kids who I’m trying to raise to be good, compassionate, intelligent people. And they see this incurious, narcissistic asshole getting to run the country. Sorry man, Trump is completely awful and a terrible president even if the actual policies aren’t that bad.

70 msgkings December 27, 2017 at 3:53 pm

Also, Obama’s policies were far from shitty. You’re just being partisan. Obama’s actions weren’t nearly as bad as Team Red painted them (far from perfect obviously), just as Trump’s aren’t as bad as Team Blue is saying. Part of this is our government doesn’t let presidents just do whatever they want. Part of it is Obama was a centrist in terms of important policy, and Trump isn’t that radical there either.

71 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ December 27, 2017 at 5:07 pm

msgkings is obviously deeply conflicted. Trump is (A) a total clowny embarrassment, an incurious, narcissistic asshole, but (B) anyone who criticizes him is just being partisan, and Trump’s aren’t as bad as Team Blue is saying.

Therefore disregard party (A), I guess.

72 TMC December 28, 2017 at 12:23 pm

I admit to being somewhat partisan, as should you. I didn’t hate Bill Clinton while he was Pres, but didn’t vote for him. I thought Obama was going to be much better than he was. He really was terrible as a leader and a person. He starts out firing the Inspector General who finds a friend of Obama stealing a couple hundred thou from the stimulus, sends an innocent guy to jail for a video that he blamed his eff up on for Benghazi, siphons off fines to the financial firms to his left wing groups, and ends up corrupting the DOJ, EPA, IRS and the FBI to do his political work. Obama has been a complete piece of shit.

” and he’s a total clowny embarrassment.” So why does that suddenly bother you? We’ve been there for the past 9 years.

73 rayward December 27, 2017 at 8:02 am

I’ve observed that economic soothsayers have a much higher status than economic historians. Why is that, given that the economic soothsayers have poor records for accuracy. Wouldn’t it be more useful to analyze predictions that did or didn’t come to pass? Of course, obsessing about the future is what humans do, mostly for fear of the future. The joke is that predictions are difficult, especially about the future. That’s no joke. Ironically, Jesus was no better at predictions than today’s economic soothsayers, Jesus having incorrectly predicted the imminent End of Time, to the dismay of His Disciples who quit their day jobs. Cowen’s predictions seem rather innocuous in comparison. Is anyone going to quit her day job because Cowen predicts the integration of the real and virtual worlds?

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74 Bill December 27, 2017 at 8:08 am

Predictions of the past:

1. Small businesses will give way to larger businesses because large businesses will be able to own a mainframe computer and small businesses won’t have the use of computers.

2. Japan’s savings rate and lack of a deficit or debt will doom the profligate USA.

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75 Ray Lopez December 27, 2017 at 11:30 am

Well, one out of two correct is not bad, as big corporations have indeed taken over market share from weaker players, and, contrary to popular belief, if you factor in Japan’s net savings, their public debt-to-GDP ratio is about roughly 120% vs the USA’s 100%, which is not good but not as bad as the 200%+ headline figure most people read about. Don’t count Japan out yet, or rather, they are the canary in the coal mine.

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76 Bill December 27, 2017 at 11:48 am

Maybe its two out of two:

“The Japanese public debt exceeded one quadrillion yen (US$10.46 trillion) in 2013, more than twice the annual gross domestic product of Japan.[1][2]

In August 2011, Moody’s rating cut Japan’s long-term sovereign debt rating by one notch to Aa3 from Aa2 in line with the size of the country’s deficit and borrowing level. The large budget deficits and government debt since the 2008-09 global recession and followed by earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 contributed to the ratings downgrade. In 2012 the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Yearbook editorial (Gurría 2012) stated that Japan’s debt “rose above 200% of GDP partly as a consequence of the tragic earthquake and the related reconstruction efforts. Former Prime Minister Naoto Kan called the situation “urgent”.[3] Japan had the world’s highest debt per GDP in 2014.[4][5]”

From Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_debt_of_Japan

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77 TMC December 27, 2017 at 2:22 pm

I’d agree with #1 if you substitute regulatory state instead of mainframe. #2 is the same thing we are going through with China.

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78 Bill December 27, 2017 at 4:52 pm

Ray, I think I won both unless you offer evidence that the Wiki Japan quote and info is wrong.

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79 Guy Makiavelli December 27, 2017 at 8:05 am

But whatever your prediction for the future, this integration of real and virtual worlds will either make or break bitcoin and other crypto-assets.

Five years from now this remark of Tyler’s will look really silly.

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80 Bill December 27, 2017 at 8:47 am

My prediction for 2018:

Republican candidates for the House or Senate will be unable to answer the following question:

Would you support a bill that required complete financial disclosure prior to nomination and adherence to government ethics laws once elected for any Presidential nominee.

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81 TMC December 27, 2017 at 11:19 am

Will the Republican candidates get to make up a new definition for ‘complete’ and have everyone be OK with it like the Democrats typically do?

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82 Euripides December 27, 2017 at 8:57 am

Your predictions are, “either tweets win or real-world policy wins”?? LOL! I guess the nogg was flowing freely when the column was due….

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83 Transnational Pants Machine December 27, 2017 at 9:33 am

No kidding. Tyler is the type of person who worries that Trump’s tweets will “drive foreign policy.”

Trump being President is not a concern, apparently. But my God, those tweets! What if they start writing laws on their own?

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84 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ December 27, 2017 at 9:41 am

In fairness, Trump tweets away and thinks that *is* being President, and that those *are* his official policy.

The insulated voter may not grasp that late 2017 reality.

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85 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ December 27, 2017 at 10:18 am
86 TMC December 27, 2017 at 11:21 am

Your example doesn’t say anything about policy, so doesn’t really support your position. It’s more a statement of facts.

87 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ December 27, 2017 at 11:35 am
88 TMC December 27, 2017 at 3:34 pm

Your twitter example has Trump stating it used the dossier to go after the campaign, which it did. Your other link states the FBI didn’t use it in its Russian tampering investigation, which happened/ is happening after the election, thus campaign. Two very different things. So you are complaining that Trump is right, which sounds like most complaints about him.

89 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ December 27, 2017 at 5:08 pm

“FBI TAINTED” are the key words here.

They are a very dangerous *policy* statement, and terrible for the Republic.

90 Harun December 28, 2017 at 12:26 am

What if the FBI is tainted?

91 Just Another MR Commentor December 27, 2017 at 9:34 am

Tyler doesn’t drink so that makes it even funnier.

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92 Transition government December 27, 2017 at 10:01 am

O My soul from the ends of the mountains;
And the wild beasts of the wilderness;
They that see me about from the wilderness?
They shall be abundantly satisfied with the sighs of the mountains;
And the wild beasts of the field of the wilderness;
They shake the wind out it in the mountains;
And the wild beasts of the field of the wilderness;
They that see me about with mine own flesh.
The wicked shall be abundantly satisfied with thy servants.
For his lovingkindness endureth for ever.
Oh give thanks unto the God of gods;
And the mountains of the wicked perish at the fire,
And the full of the river of the wilderness;
They shake the wind out it in the mountains;

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93 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ December 27, 2017 at 9:38 am

On the Trump paragraph: while the effect of Trump on social media is evident, I would approach 2017 summary and 2018 prediction a bit differently.

We ended 2017 with “the base” divided down about as far as it can go, but with some rather uncomfortable accommodations by the Party.

We will enter 2018 with the possibility of a “base” turning against rule of law:

http://www.businessinsider.com/francis-rooney-calls-for-fbi-purge-2017-12

I think law will ultimately prevail, but I don’t think anyone should be complacent. As 2016 showed, weird stuff can happen, and in flurries.

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94 chuck martel December 27, 2017 at 9:51 am

Gee, if the law ultimately prevails the Clintons will be in automobile license plate manufacturing, senior bureaucrats in the IRS will be sharing rooms with drug importers, FBI agents will speak to their spouses through glass panels and Democrat movers and shakers will all be wearing lace-less sneakers.

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95 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ December 27, 2017 at 9:56 am

“The law” requires you to make that case in court, and not in what would prove to be ultimate irony .. a Flynn led chant.

To simply say who you think should be in jail is the opposite of good citizenship.

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96 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ December 27, 2017 at 10:08 am

Note that “I can only be investigated by my friends” is a terrible development in American politics. Right now “the base” will buy that lifetime Republicans are really Secret Democrats, and unfair stewards of justice.

That is a terrible end to a sad year.

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97 derek December 27, 2017 at 10:31 am

Rule of law means that people who write and apply the laws are subject to them as well.

It doesn’t mean ‘what the FBI says’.

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98 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ December 27, 2017 at 10:40 am

No one serious says that it does. We expect the FBI to make their case for indictment in court.

And if you think they’ve missed one, sue.

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99 TMC December 27, 2017 at 11:24 am

You can sue the FBI to make them do their jobs?

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100 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ December 27, 2017 at 11:31 am
101 Richard Richards December 27, 2017 at 12:09 pm

Can I sue Sue Storm to make her do her job?

102 derek December 27, 2017 at 3:42 pm

Oh so there is a glimmer of rationality there.

The best way to describe the upper echelons of the FBI over the last two years is clusterfuck. They deserve every bit of the bipartisan criticism.

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103 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ December 27, 2017 at 5:09 pm

That’s funny. You think you see a “glimmer of rationality” and then you turn away from it completely.

What misbehavior of the FBI has been proven in court?

104 chuck martel December 27, 2017 at 10:18 pm

Well, they subsidized the criminal activities of Whitey Bulger. Does that count?

105 Boonton December 27, 2017 at 9:41 am

Many of the biggest events of 2018 will be bound together by a common theme

Is this because events happen to be bound by a theme or because we create narratives and it’s easier to create a narrative with one major theme rather than many? For example, suppose in 2018 Putin dies suddenly and his kleptocracy implodes meanwhile Trump gets so bad that the Republican party starts to come apart due to election losses and fractionalization (hey the Whigs vanished, there’s no law of nature that says the GOP can’t). Will we see those as two different major events or all part of one grand theme tied together by a narrative (the alt-right implosion?)?

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106 rayward December 27, 2017 at 10:20 am

I don’t recall Cowen ever mentioning the critical theorists (the Frankfurt School), but the subject should be of interest to everyone concerned about culture and the media. Here is a fascinating interview of the author of a new book (Grand Hotel Abyss by Stuart Jeffries) about the critical theorists: https://www.vox.com/conversations/2016/12/27/14038406/donald-trump-frankfurt-school-brexit-critical-theory I would add that even though I don’t recall Cowen mentioning the critical theorists, many of Cowen’s observations about culture and the media are right on point.

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107 Matthew Young December 27, 2017 at 11:35 am

All employees, California, 3 month change, BEA series

https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-0-a-KnfnQB4/WkK_fPLj6tI/AAAAAAAACCI/X2wzKwo4legLQHYxs5vNp1PrM7PEXbEigCLcBGAs/s400/fredgraph%2B%25287%2529.png
————————

What an ugly URL!, but that is the chart we need to watch.

How this chart progresses determines whether we have a mild 2001 style recession or the full blown 2008 version.

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108 JC December 27, 2017 at 11:42 am

TLDR version: some stuff will make or break in 2018.

Whoa. Bold prediction there.

Give us something actually big. The Dow will go to 30,000 then crash to 17,000 by year’s end. Republicans will impeach Trump in September.

None of those will happen, but I’d at least respect the effort to make a big prediction.

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109 Mark Thorson December 27, 2017 at 12:17 pm

I predict Trump will make the change in U.S. currency that I suggested in a letter sent yesterday. I won’t say what it is, but it is in-line with his tactics for handling the media and appeals to his base. It reverses an Obama-era policy, which is just gravy on these mashed potatoes. I’ll wait for Trump to announce it, so I won’t steal his thunder.

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110 msgkings December 27, 2017 at 12:50 pm

Won’t the 436 House representatives and 102 Senators have something to say about it?

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111 Mark Thorson December 27, 2017 at 2:17 pm

No, he can do it by executive order.

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112 msgkings December 27, 2017 at 2:23 pm

If it’s just putting Pepe the Frog on the $20 bill instead of Harriet Tubman, I’m not sure that’s the way to go.

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113 Mark Thorson December 27, 2017 at 3:14 pm

No, something much more fundamental and appealing to the Republican base. If somebody in the White House reads my letter, it would make no sense not to do it.

114 msgkings December 27, 2017 at 3:17 pm

Jesus Christ?

115 Mark Thorson December 27, 2017 at 4:03 pm

No, more subtle and less unconstitutional.

116 msgkings December 27, 2017 at 4:08 pm

Sean Hannity?

117 Mulp December 27, 2017 at 12:27 pm

“The next steps will be controlling our doors, heating systems, lights, stoves and refrigerators, and moving toward driverless cars. ”

Ok, how many people replace their doors, lights, refrigerators, stoves every few years as the original seller drops support for their older products or goes bankrupt, or is bought by a competitor who intentionally workers to force old produces be replaced?

I have 30+ year old devices in my house that still work because they conform to industry standards, mostly defacto but some dejure, and the technology changes very very slowly so firm’s stay in business for typically a century.

Mechanical systems have been make networked for decades, but in industry, by the big firm’s who invested in technology and were able to sell it based on economic benefits, and by convincing big firms these systems will be supported for decades. I worked with manufacturers installing networking control of factories in the 70s.

One type of plant was nuclear power plants. And they used VAX/VMS systems in a number of cases:

“HP says it has about 2,500 unique customers running OpenVMS, but that count only includes customers with whom it has a relationship. There are other users who are either supporting themselves or using third parties to keep the 36-year-old OS in shape. DEC was acquired by Compaq, and Compaq by HP.

“HP said Monday that it will continue support for OpenVMS on its Integrity i2 servers “through at least the end of 2020.”

The cost to develop the software and integrate the hardware with the nuclear power plants was in the multiple tens of millions of dollars back in the 80s. Today, the cost of reverse engineering the systems and developing replacements with decades of stable life ahead would be on the order of a hundred million. (SONGS underwent a $680 million repair that was incomplete on reverse engineering everything that created worse problems than the parts replaced to repair the plants, leading to the decision to shutdown the SONGS nuclear reactors completely). Trying to fix the computer systems on old equipment could result in the entire capital asset worth tens of millions to billions being scrapped.

IoT is going to require much greater standardization of components that are required by government, either the Federal government in MIL-STD or GAO contract requirements, or by building codes created by insurers and industry and then required by local building inspectors.

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118 Bill December 27, 2017 at 1:05 pm

I think you will see early adoption of IOT devices in nursing homes and assisted care facilities because they will supplant human assistance or regularize activities of the forgetful or demented. There is an economic justification for the shift.

Already Japan has been a leader in IOT bed lift devices and robots that interact with the elderly. They do not want to import too many Philippine nurses.

You won’t have to wear a device advertised on television when you shout: “I fell and I can’t get up”, because Siri and Alexa will be there to help you.

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119 Paul December 27, 2017 at 2:26 pm

My local daily news paper published this column today in the editorial section. That was a surprise. Definitely an improvement from the usual NYT or WP pundit piece.

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120 Bill December 27, 2017 at 3:55 pm

I predict the next popular IOT device will be

Electronic dog collars that shock the wearer who moves out of the perimeter of the home

And the first person to try it out, under Court order,

Will be

Paul Manafort.

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121 Bob December 27, 2017 at 10:20 pm

Sensible predictions in general. I am bearish regarding the internet of things because of specific limitations on what is monetizable and what is secure in the long run: Many an early IoT company isn’t doing so well because their models are not subscription based, and it’s really hard to go anywhere in the space without recurring revenue. Some amazing startup might surprise me, however.

As far as taking electronic attacks as seriously as military attacks, I agree with you in spirit, but I do not think it will happen for practical reasons. A key difference between cyberattacks and just regular military operations is far better plausible deniability. The main reasons we can make good guesses regarding where attacks come from have to do with how much a country can get away with: Harder penalties would just bring in far more efforts in hiding the attacker’s identity.

My bonus 2018 take is that Catalonia will have a bad year economically, and will maintain its political and social strife, as there’s no way out in sight. Tyler, if you want a good laugh, search for Tabarnia, a mostly satirical movement that claims that Barcelona and Tarragona are their own independent regions from Catalonia, have too little political representation in the Catalan government compared to population and GDP, pay a lot more taxes to the state than they receive, and are happily bilingual. When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.

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122 Peldrigal December 29, 2017 at 6:38 am

I think plausible deniability mostly depends on the current period mindset: look at what Russia has been able to get away with.
I actually think possible a scenario where nation states trigger retaliations in response to cyber attacks, even if officially denied, while willing to ignore actual violations of sovereignty by armed troops.
Not likely, just possible.

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