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Predictive Dirty Dozen: What will and won't happen in 2022 (unless it doesn’t/does)

We confidently predict that the predictions in this article will turn out wrong

Something for the Weekend, Sir? I have been looking intently at my ball again and I'm about to reveal everything.

No doubt you have been plagued by "predictions for the next year in tech" for weeks already. Me too. My first receipt of such crystal balling arrived in my inbox during September, and the 2022 hype brigade has been working flat out ever since. The only way I am going to beat the crowd for sure is to deliver my New Year predictions around July.

But like Easter eggs on Boxing Day, they just get earlier and earlier. So this year, I decided not to compete. That's why I have left it until now – right at the culmination of the kitchen calendar – to go all Mystic Meg.

Thanks to Brexit, I am no longer burdened under the yoke of European diktat and can reveal not just a bureaucratic Brussels 10 but a good old take-back-control British Imperial 12 predictions for the year ahead. Ha! Take that, you Teutonic twits! Up yours, Delors! etc.

To prevent this article from being more boring that it needs to be, I have split the predictions down the middle: six each of what will happen and what won't. For this, I needed two crystal balls – another sovereign right previously denied me by the Evil European Empire – and I have been painfully scrying my balls all week. Prepare yourself, dear reader, for Dabbsy's Duo of Dirty Half-Dozens.

Predictions in tech 2022 part one: 'Not a chance, pal'

Won't Happen #1: NFTs decline in popularity

The non-fungible token fad is daft but, hey, it's a fad: it's supposed to be. That's what makes them novel and amusing. When you buy an NFT thing, you don't really acquire or own it, nor can you easily hang it on the wall or show it to the neighbours when they come round for tea. But that's irrelevant. What matters is that you believe that you have, and that makes you feel all warm and snuggly and cybercool and such shit. Good for you, I say. Buy some more.

Oh, the fact that several of my good friends and close creative colleagues are riding the crest by selling their artworks as expensive NFTs by the cartload to well-heeled fad-hunters in no way clouds my judgement. My balls do not lie.

Won't Happen #2: Cryptocurrencies go titsup

Cryptocurrencies are not a fad. They are mad. They make no sense whatsoever, are not secure, and use up vast amounts of electrical power in order to do nothing at all. You can't even use a cryptocurrency as a currency because nobody wants to spend any in case it doubles in value tomorrow.

But just because there's a dip in Bitcoin for a week doesn't signal the imminent demise of cryptos. Commodities do that all the time, then rally later on. It's a bubble that will never burst, inexplicable though that is.

Won't Happen #3: The Great Resignation

I read that 64 per cent of professionals are planning to resign if they don't receive a satisfactory pay increase in the New Year, or are forced to return to an office rather than fuck about watching daytime TV at home. Unless there is a swathe of alternative employers out there who plan to offer high salaries to acquire sulky staff who left their previous workplace in a hissy fit, I don't think this is going to happen.

On the other hand, I do predict a revival of the labour movement via virtual-workplace organisation.

Won't Happen #4: You buy a self-crashing car

File this one alongside flying taxis and disposable clothes made from recycled toilet paper. Elon's claim that he can ensure your safety by looking at your vehicle's browser history offers no reassurance whatsoever. And driving full electric only seems clever because – in case you hadn't noticed – we're not allowed to go anywhere at the moment. Maybe give it another year, eh?

Won't Happen #5: Augmented Reality finally takes off

AR is fabulous. It's practical. It's mature. It works. It doesn't require you to spend 10 grand dressing up like a Daft Punk cosplayer. What it continues to lack is a killer application to blast it into our everyday lives. The best I've read about all year was a claim that AR would revolutionise the takeaway food market by letting lazy diners browse a number 37 with egg fried rice and crispy noodles in 3D. The wait for that AR killer app goes on…

Won't Happen #6: Passwords replaced by something better

If anything, password alternatives are getting worse. I find I am having to juggle multiple competing proprietary authenticator apps, and I am expected to come up with longer and more complex passwords as time goes on. Added to the challenge is the fact that I roll my own cross-platform password manager via open-source tools rather than hand the keys to my kingdom to private equity businesses.

Worse still, a new trend has arisen for organisations to ditch password protection altogether and force users to retrieve an email and click on a new confirmation link sent every time you want to log into their services.

I confidently predict that your password experience will deteriorate in 2022.

Predictions in tech 2022 part two: 'Definitely maybe'

Will Happen #1: AI transcription and translation improves massively

Colleagues complain that AI-automated speech transcription systems aren't accurate enough. Me, I think it's fucking amazing. And cheap. You can improve the results enormously by buying a half-decent microphone rather than relying on the usual two cans and a piece of string while you record a meeting. It also helps if you face your computer display and speak towards the microphone. Yes, I know this is difficult to do during a meeting while trying to watch daytime TV.

One thing I'm hoping for is that Otter will begin transcribing more languages beyond English. If they don't do it, someone else will. And it'll all get better and better through the year.

Will Happen #2: All goods are purchased through crowdfunding

At some point over the last decade, you stopped buying from eBay. You don't know when or why, it just happened. Then your Amazon consumption dwindled. You now find that most of your significant online purchases are made direct, and increasingly though crowdfunding. Not startups or wacky inventions, but established companies launching standard products and new editions.

In 2022 you will not crowdfund out of the good of your own heart. It will just become a mundane form of online shopping like any other.

Will Happen #3: Everything is designed for 'better mental health'

Those shoes? "Created to improve holistic well-being." That wallpaper? "Developed specially with wellness as a priority." Your next pack of toilet paper? "Optimised to enhance mental health." It's enough to drive you nuts.

Will Happen #4: All office chairs are gaming chairs

Office furniture suppliers rank their office chairs for sturdiness and comfort according to how long you sit in them. My "light use" Ikea office chair is nice but only because I've smothered it in additional cheap Ikea cushions. Meanwhile, everybody I speak to in online meetings seems to be sitting in the same mock-motorsport gaming chair with a high head-rest and go-faster stripes. I want one. So do you. So will we all in 2022.

Will Happen #5: You get a QR code tattoo while drunk one night

Simple consumer tech such as plugging a USB-C cable into a USB-3 adapter can challenge the older generation but even your gran knows what a QR code is. Seventy years ago, the idea of being marked with a personal code filled people with horror. Fifty years ago, it became a staple of dystopian sci-fi. Today, you have to show yours before you can access the library toilets.

On a New Year binge, you will get so pissed that you will wake up to find a QR code tattooed onto your privates. Look on the bright side: it'll save you time when using those library toilets.

Will Happen #6: Local craft beers take over the world

Just when you thought the fad would wane, a new generation of wispy bearded and much-tattooed hipsters are founding craft beer breweries. At least six appeared near me in recent months alone, two of them within walking distance from my front door. Those that are not are selling their wares via – you guessed it – crowdfunding sites.

Come to think of it, as the world re-descends into Hell, I might need a drink on the way.

Join me?

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Alistair Dabbs
Alistair Dabbs is a freelance technology tart, juggling tech journalism, training and digital publishing. Each year he quakes in fear at the possibility that one of his predictions will turn out to be accurate. This would make him an "influencer" and it will take a week of wirebrushing to remove the stench. More at Autosave is for Wimps and @alidabbs.

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