New Years Eve is, without fail, the busiest time of the year for Uber. That means that I'll be spending all of my day (and all of the night and into late tomorrow morning UTC) monitoring the systems that my team and I are responsible for. Whilst creating dashboards for my services is a labour of love (just look how pretty that thing is), watching them all day gives me time to reflect on the past and think about the future.
I absolutely love the future. I often say that the only thing that would truly annoy me is to die knowing that everyone else is still living. End of the world? A bit disappointing, but, at least I'd get to know how it happens. The future is going to be unimaginably awesome, especially as we might be the first ones to experience it indefinitely.
I like to read and talk about the future a lot, which at this time of year means lots of debate with the family. My mum thinks none of it will ever happen, my dad (hi Dad - he will invariably email me to tell me he's read this) is still impressed with being able to check the weather at any time of day and my girlfriend is just really, really bored of listening to me predict the future. So instead of boring her, I'll lay out my short-term (1-5 years) future predictions here.
I do not have any money, but if I did, I'd put it on some of the stock predictions which I'll make in these categories.
Let's start with the popular one; Virtual Reality. The hype machine has been churning for over a year now, and we're almost at the point of consumer VR! Unfortunately for everyone; it'll mostly flop.
VR will be pushed hard by a lot of companies, and the competition will start to bring the price of good devices down to a point where most families might consider buying one. That being said, there is an extremely long way to go before we have a good solution for input and UX which will be VRs biggest downfall. There are plenty of people who are ready to refer to VR as 'the last medium' but in the long run it'll fall from grace in favour of a good Mixed Reality (MR) solution.
One area where VR will excel is in TV shows and movies, and we'll start to see the decline of cinema ticket sales speed up by the end of the year. It will be technology companies like Amazon and Netflix leading the charge into delivering VR movies straight to your face, and the incumbents in film and video distribution will flail, delaying the inevitable with lawsuits and patent battles.
Within 3 years, small cinema companies will start to fold as lower ticket sales accelerate their downward spiral by forcing their prices even higher. 4 different companies will start an on-demand popcorn company and will all fail because that's a stupid idea. News companies and new media companies will try and push VR news, music videos and everything else in to your face, but will ultimately stop when they realise nobody wants to strap a fucking screen to their face to hear about the weather.
SHORT Cinema companies SHORT Cable companies LONG VR companies (1 year) then SELL (year 3+) LONG Amazon and Netflix
In 2 years, VR will sit firmly in it's gaming/movie niche and will be wide open to disruption from...
Mixed Reality will finally start to deliver on some of it's promises with the much anticipated HoloLens and MagicLeap which should come to market within the next 3 years. Adoption may also start quickly in the industry, driving prices down through lots of lucrative competition from companies willing to adopt en-masse for their workforce.
Whilst VR devices will fill a niche, MR devices will start slowly before hitting an exponential growth period, reaching over 40% saturation in just 3 years like smartphones and TVs did historically. Within 5 years from now, 25% of the developed world will be wearing AR devices every day.
LONG MagicLeap when they come to market SELL VR companies at that point (excluding FB)
The next big one is of course AI. Most people don't understand just how possible true AI really is because they just don't understand the idea of exponential growth.
This may be my favourite graph of all time:
I will defer to Kurzweil for AI predictions, because he's right about almost everything.In 1999 Kurzweil predicted that by 2019, $1000 dollars would buy a device which has a capacity approximately equal to the computational capability of the human brain. I think he will be correct.
LONG any company leading in the field of AI (GOOG, FB, BABA)
The drone revolution will happen, but only in the industrial sectors. There will be a continued uptick in personal drone adoption, but that will level off as people realise that they are not interesting enough to have a drone film themselves most of the time.
With increasing autonomy, better batteries and lower prices, drone adoption will happen rapidly across many industries in the next 5 years. The biggest sectors to adopt multiple drone deployments will be agriculture, logistics and the military. Every farm worth its salt will use drones to monitor its crops. Drones will deliver packages directly to people's houses.
With the increase in drones around urban areas, governments will designate specific drone flying zones and heights to combat congestion and collisions. Cities will tax companies for using these aerial lanes.
Within 5 years, it will stranger to look up and not see a drone than to look up and see one in suburban areas of large cities.
LONG Drone makers and aerospace (ESLT, NOC, LMC)
Cars / Autonomous Vehicles
I will leave this one terse in case I say something stupid that I'm not supposed to say (not that I know much more about it than you do). Let's just say this; within 5 years, half of 17 year olds living in large urban cities will not bother to get a driving licence.
Tech companies will beat motor companies. The biggest motor companies will start to manufacture for B2B sales rather than for the consumer market.
LONG TSLA, other EV manufacturers LONG Renewable energy (FSLR, SEDG) SHORT Any motor company too small to attract top software engineering talent (all but Toyota, GM, VW, Ford, Hyundai)
SHORT Car parking companies if they exist publicly :)