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Greetings from the future where it's all pole-dancing robots and Pokemon passports

If you must know, 2020 was a blast

NSFW: Something for the New Year, Sir? Happy 2021, everyone! No, I haven't typed that wrong, I really do bring greetings from the future. Someone launched a handheld short-jump time machine at CES 2021 and I persuaded them to let me test a review unit before they find out I'm not Matthew Hughes.

Well, what a year it has been – or, in your case, will be!

Things will kick off nicely at CES 2020 with plenty of products to look at if only to confirm everything you already read about them in the pre-Christmas press releases. And although I have been strictly warned not to give too much away about what will happen over the course of your next 12 months, I recommend making the most of Las Vegas before The Flood.

If I could have travelled back a little further in time, I might have tried, like a pound-shop Sarah Connor, to prevent Hap2U from ever developing its haptic smartphone display, something you'll learn about soon enough from CES 2020. As the blurb goes, "Hap2Phone allows users to feel and sense, for the first time, objects in photos appearing on their touchscreens." All I can say is that the novelty wears pretty damn thin the very first time your thumb accidentally brushes against the screen when someone forwards you a dick-pic.

Oh yes, haptic displays and purloined groin shots are a marriage made in Hell – its second circle to be precise – and you will find, once again, the porn industry will accelerate the advancement of personal entertainment tech. Talk about, er, low-hanging fruit.

However, as the year progresses, you may find yourself agreeing with me that a livestream of Jeff Bezos's $150bn haptic schlong swaying in the breeze is not necessarily the kind of thing you want on-screen when holding a smartphone to your ear… or mouth. If you thought Jeff's face already reminds you of a permanently surprised tortoise come springtime...

On a parallel theme, Softbank Robotics' involvement in a Japanese restaurant at the beginning of your year is going to give some people dubious ideas. Pepper Parlour in Shibuya, Tokyo will start off as one of those slightly amusing geek-out snack bars where wobbly Pepper robots bring over the crisps, speak pre-written servile bollocks at you and then trundle off while you're still talking to it.

All standard robot stuff, of course. No, the real problem will be the NAO robots, designed to "perform delicate, precisely choreographed dances". By the end of your year, Chinese bandwagon factories will be churning out clunky life-size fem-bots, similarly designed to perform precisely choreographed dances, albeit butt-nekked and swirling robotically around poles.

For those of you getting worried about just how more dystopian things can get than they are already – heh, it's an election year for a lot of you, isn't it? – I bring good news. On a particularly bright summer Monday morning, the world's IT investors will yawn, stretch, rub their eyes and, in that sharp-thinking, lucid dreamlike state between sleep and wakefulness, come to a common conclusion. They will all suddenly sit up in bed and cry out: "Hang on, cryptocurrencies are just a pile of wank, aren't they?"

They sort of knew this already but relied on the fact that no-one else had cottoned on. Even the fact that by 2019 some $8.5bn had already been lost in crapto hacks hadn't dented their faith, just as long as their colleagues and customers were under the impossible notion that anything based on a blockchain had some sort of built-in anti-theft device. Once everyone realised that crapto was useless as a financial currency AND no more secure than cash, the game was up.

The final nail in the coffin will be a Christmas 2020 animated greetings card emailed BCC to everyone in the world from Satoshi Nakamoto. Its message, after the animated cartoon Santa has finished sending his dick-pic and the reindeer have completed their precisely choreographed pole-dance, will announce that he has sold all his Bitcoin for Scottish Euros – ah yes, that's another story, sorry – and signs off with: "Enjoy the rising sea level, you short-term losers. I've fucked off to Mars."

Indeed, you may be pleased to learn that commercial space travel will become a thing over the course of the next dozen of your Earth months.

Don't get over-excited: it just means the planes fly higher. Space travel doesn't necessarily mean it's interplanetary. Richard Branson isn't involved, so no surprises there. In fact, when I set off on my little time jaunt from 2021, Branson was still insisting he'd be operating passenger space flights by the end of 2016. Oddly enough, with these handheld time machines shortly on the market, it's possible he might yet turn out to be telling the truth.

Talking of time, the faffing about you waste in international departures at the spaceport will lengthen in proportion to the time you save flying beyond the mesosphere. This has nothing to do with the flight itself but is a consequence of the unregulated spread of proprietary biometric ID systems that are going to proliferate on the market in your year ahead.

Even a quick jaunt by sea from France to England across the Channel is going to take longer. OK, this is partly due to the robo-sharks (complete with lay-zers strapped to their heads) that will be introduced post-Brexit. But I warn you that the augmented reality enhanced biometric system at the border gate will be a bit of a bugger. Even now, it keeps identifying me as Psyduck.

Righty, that's enough of a glimpse into my recent past, your near future. As I say, I'm not really allowed to tell you everything but, er, I suggest you get a cheap flip-phone, resist the temptation to invest wildly in loony crapto tokens, and do try to keep your spirits up when that election result comes through in November.

Oh, and buy a boat.

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Alistair Dabbs
Alistair Dabbs is a freelance technology tart, juggling tech journalism, training and digital publishing. He wishes readers the best for the New Year, whichever year it happens to be in your zone in the space-time continuum. He insists that print on paper will make a big comeback by 2021. Sadly, this will be accompanied by a hipster revival of the dot matrix printer. @alidabbs

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