What can we expect from 2016?

I guess it is just much easier to forecast good news than bad ones; for good news occurs rarely by chance and is most often the result of long efforts. It is generally known well in advance when a fortunate development will occur.

While bad news (sometimes predictable, such as layoffs, some conflicts or famines) generally occurs by surprise, without notice: It is in fact easier to destroy than to build; to do harm than good; to kill than to give life. And yet, we are far more fascinated by dangers than promises; by threats than hopes. Because bad news is information; while good news is stated in general well in advance. This is though not the case for a tsunami, a terrorist attack, or a disease.

My predictions for the balance of the year?

Continued global violent extremism: Terrorism has intensified sharply over recent years in conflict areas and poses an increasing risk to major economies around the world. In 2016, global political and violent extremism will show no signs of abatement, as sectarian and fascist ideologies continue to attract new followers. ISIS will retain control of large swaths of Syria and Iraq, keep on spreading to weak states in its immediate region, and form new cells and gain fresh adherents in G20 countries.

Rise of the machines: The increasing technological sophistication and expanding the presence of smart devices, unmanned systems, and robots will keep reshaping businesses and households. In 2016, unmanned systems and robotics will move from niche applications to broader use. The Internet of Things (IoT) will grow but remain more of a novelty than a necessity. Governments will scramble to keep up with regulating new technologies.

Evolving artificial intelligence (AI): Advancements in AI are expanding opportunities for research and development, as well as business use cases, but are raising serious questions about the future of labor and even of humanity itself. In 2016, several major companies will continue to develop in-house R&D capabilities for deep learning by machines. The most technologically advanced countries will increase investment in AI, supported by private investments and public-private sector partnerships.

Cyber insecurity: Growing cybersecurity issues will increasingly challenge governments and businesses while simultaneously empowering and dislocating individual citizens. In 2016, cyber espionage and attacks by state actors will continue, but attribution will remain difficult. The tug-of-war over privacy vs. surveillance and security will continue, as citizens persist in distrusting their governments on this issue.

The employee experience: The “corporate ladder” is a thing of the past. Employees no longer follow a linear journey in their career, but rather use new and often different jobs to establish their own path, often in many different companies. The fact that technology-based jobs are transferable across different industries has only made this easier. In order to keep talent in-house, companies will have to rethink their “employee experience” and build cultures of purpose through empowerment, individuality and reward.

The flattening of privilege: Many services that would have been considered high end are now readily available to everyone. Chauffeurs, dry-cleaning delivery or a meal in a five-star restaurant have now been brought to the general public through apps and discount services. This trend will accentuate much further this year and beyond.

Changing nature of power: Power is increasingly diffuse and fleeting. A leadership void is complicating the ability to develop effective responses to mounting policy challenges. In 2016, the “offense-defense” balance will continue to favor aggressors and abusers of traditional sources of power (for example, cyber attackers). Individuals will be further elated and terrified by changes underway, from technology to violent extremism

Government for the people: Technology has not only allowed citizens to be better informed about their governments, it has let them become players in global issues through citizen-led projects (such as Kickstarter) and social media campaigns. As Europe tries to cope with the housing of refugees, for example, numerous websites have popped up offering “refugee Airbnbs” which connect displaced people with available homes. Trend that I also see accentuated much further this year and beyond.

Trump will be the next President of the United States: One of the reasons I believe Trump will win is that Brexit won. The parallels are far too great to be coincidental. They are identical in time. They are identical in the mood, in the attitude of “I’m not doing what you say anymore.” People don’t want to admit that they support Trump. They hide it. A lot of people in Britain didn’t want to admit that they were voting to leave. My suspicion is that if Trump is even within the margin of error come November, he’ll win by a few percentage points.

The consequences of our actions are always so complicated, so diverse, that predicting the future is a very difficult business indeed… But as Abraham Lincoln used to say: “The best way to predict your future is to create it”

Share your thoughts.

Written by

Ziad Abdelnour is a political activist and is the Founder and President of the United States Committee for a Free Lebanon.

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