Ryan's Journal

"My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?" — David Mitchell

2024: Things That Probably Won’t Happen

Posted from Culver City, California at 8:17 pm, January 16th, 2024

Per the annual tradition, below is my list of things that probably aren’t going to happen in the coming year. My batting average over the past 16 years of predictions would have me riding the bench in the peewee leagues, so check with your financial advisor before placing any bets based on what’s below. As happens every election year, the obligatory political predictions lead things off, so skip over the first three if you’re tired of the bare-knuckle-cage-match-inside-of-a-lunatic-asylum that is today’s political process.

  1. Joe Biden (or another Democrat if his health fails) will be elected President.

    Democrats are (understandably) unexcited about having a past-his-prime Joe Biden at the top of the ticket, but if he is running against Trump again he has a number of advantages. For one, Trump isn’t an unknown anymore, and a large swathe of centrist voters won’t support him because of his rhetoric, temperament, and penchant for unleashing mobs to burn down the Capitol. Second, while many Democrats are disillusioned over what they didn’t achieve under Biden, they may look much more favorably on his administration when compared with Trump, who appointed Supreme Court judges that overturned Roe v Wade, demonizes immigrants, wants to exit NATO and abandon Ukraine, doesn’t believe global warming is a threat, wants to repeal Obamacare, etc. That being said, this election could easily go either way, which is a scary thought.
  2. Democrats will lose two Senate seats and lose control of the Senate.

    A lot of Democrats who have been bashing Joe Manchin will miss him greatly when he retires, because he was the only Democrat on the planet who could get elected in West Virginia. Democrats also have to hold seats in Montana, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Nevada and Virginia if they want to keep control, which would take a minor miracle to achieve.
  3. Republicans will lose the House of Representatives, with Democrats gaining a thin majority of between 2-10 seats.

    This prediction is one that could easily be wrong given that several states (North Carolina in particular) are redrawing the election maps in ways that should guarantee Republicans a few more seats, but in recent elections abortion has been a motivating issue, and just as with the Presidency, it should drive turnout for Democrats and push them over the edge in close races. Also, Republicans did cannibalize their own Speaker in 2023, so they have an uphill climb on winning the “don’t eat your leaders” voter.
  4. SpaceX’s Starship rocket will successfully deliver cargo to orbit but won’t have a successful landing.

    Starship is the largest and most powerful rocket to ever be built, and the crazy engineering geniuses at SpaceX will eventually get it to be as reliable as their Falcon 9 rocket, which currently launches (and lands) every 3-4 days. But I don’t think that’s going to happen in 2024, although they should succeed at getting payloads in orbit soon, given the fact that their last launch came tantalizingly close to reaching orbit before exploding spectacularly.
  5. The US men’s Olympic basketball team will go undefeated, will win every game by at least fifteen points, and will romp to an Olympic gold medal.

    The US lost to Canada and Germany on their way to a fourth place finish in the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup, but much like the 2008 “Redeem” Team, that means that the 2024 Olympic team goes in with a chip on its shoulder. The team looks like it’s going to feature Lebron James, Steph Curry, Joel Embid, Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant, all of whom see this Olympics as possibly their last chance to play together, so it should be the most impressive team the US has fielded since 1992’s Dream Team that featured Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and eight other future Hall of Famers.
  6. Twitter will either be sold or spun off into a non-profit foundation.

    Elon Musk’s takeover and management of Twitter has been much mocked, so while it may take more than another year, the end seems near. If he sells it will be for a tiny fraction of his $44 billion purchase price, but he’s one of the few people in the world that could look at $44 billion as a bad bet, so he may just choose to write down the whole thing and spin Twitter off into some sort of non-profit foundation in the name of “promoting free speech”.
  7. 2024 will see the start of antitrust actions against Apple over its app store and iOS ecosystem in both the US and EU, but nothing will be close to changing by end of year.

    Regulators have been increasingly upset about Apple’s practice of forcing all transactions for app store purchases through Apple (where they take a 30% cut), and of making its text messaging incompatible with non-Apple devices, among many other practices. Apple proactively announced that it will support the more standard RCS text messaging format, likely due to scrutiny from regulators, and the iPhone 15 was forced to use USB-C connectors instead of Apple’s proprietary lightning connector due to EU action, but Apple is going to fight tooth and nail to keep its app store monopoly, and thus the long process of forcing them to change will only just be getting started when 2024 ends.
  8. Deadpool 3 will become the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time.

    The MCU has been a hot mess lately, with plots that are confusing, bad writing, and a fanbase that is suffering from superhero fatigue. But Deadpool is going to prove that Marvel can still produce a winner, and it will easily top Joker to become the highest grossing R-rated movie of all time. There is literally no one on the planet who doesn’t love Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman, it will have been eight months since the last MCU movie, and the Spiderman movies prove that crowds will show up for a film about a character that they like.
  9. Marvin Harrison Jr and four quarterbacks will be the top five picks in the NFL draft.

    Quarterback is the most important position in sports, CJ Stroud and Joe Burrow have proven that rookie quarterbacks can succeed, and the 2024 draft is regarded as one of the strongest QB drafts in years, so Jayden Daniels, Bo Nix, or another prospect will rise up during draft evaluations to join Caleb Williams and Drake Maye in the top five picks. Meanwhile, Marvin Harrison Jr is supposedly the second coming of Megatron, so he’ll be the lone non-QB in the top five. This prediction goes against what most mock drafts are saying right now, but what’s the fun in predicting the same thing as everyone else?
  10. Either Paramount Studios or Warner Brothers Studios (or both) will be sold to Netflix, Google, or another media company anxious to enhance their streaming offerings.

    I’ve been very wrong about studio sales before, but there are already rumors that Paramount is for sale. Both Paramount and Warner Brothers are struggling to compete with the existing streaming services, and streaming media companies hungry for content could see the catalogs and production capabilities of these legacy studios as a bargain for their current market caps of around $9 billion (Paramount) and $26 billion (Warner Brothers).
  11. Both the Tesla Cybertruck and the Apple Vision Pro headset will see disappointing sales and will have to either cut production targets or drop prices to attract buyers.

    In a way these are repeats of predictions from last year, but now that the Cybertruck has launched and the Apple Vision Pro has a launch date it should be possible to measure sales. Estimates are that Apple will produce only 400,000 headsets in 2024 while they figure out how to build them, and the Apple fanbase should never be underestimated, but I wouldn’t be surprised if sales slow to a trickle after launch. Meanwhile Cybertruck supposedly has 1-2 million preorders, but as customers are asked to convert those into firm orders a lot of people are likely to balk given the price is much higher than initially announced, the range is much lower than originally announced, and driving a stainless steel triangle is a weird lifestyle choice.
  12. The Dow Jones Industrial Average will end the year up 15-25 percent.

    I hate making stock market predictions because it seems a sure way to jinx everyone’s retirement savings, but by most objective measures (unemployment, consumer spending, etc) the economy has been strong lately. While currently bonds and savings accounts are paying a guaranteed five percent return, with the Federal Reserve signaling that interest rate cuts may be coming in 2024 money should migrate back to stocks, causing an increase from the 37,701 close at the end of 2023.
  13. AI generated content will lead to confusion and scandals during the 2024 election cycle.

    The world is still figuring out how to reliably discern content created by humans from content created by AI, and the latter will become a big problem in the 2024 election cycle. It’s very easy today to write a LOT of convincing (but fake) content using ChatGPT or other AI tools, and AI image and video generation makes it similarly easy to create realistic but fake visual media. Combined with pushback that has led to social media companies doing less policing of fake content, this election cycle will see a flood of questionable content circulated that impacts voters and makes it harder to decide what information is trustworthy.
  14. Despite the doors literally falling off of 737-MAX planes, Boeing won’t face additional troubles in 2024 and will be on track for a very successful 2025.

    A door fell off of a 737-Max in flight, which is one of the most terrifying things an airline passenger could imagine, but less commented on was that despite exposing the passengers to a whole new way of flying, no one was hurt and the plane landed successfully, speaking to how safe planes have become. Since the disastrous launch of the 737-Max revealed corporate and regulatory issues that were far more serious than anyone might have imagined, Boeing has been reorganizing and retooling, and the internal changes will start to bear fruit towards the end of the year as airlines continue ordering large numbers of 737-Max planes, and the new 777-X completes its certification and prepares for first deliveries in 2025.
  15. Both the Jeddah Tower and the Dubai Creek Tower will resume construction this year, portending new records in the “world’s tallest” category.

    The Jeddah Tower, slated to become the world’s first building taller than one kilometer, started construction way back in 2013, but was halted in 2018 with the building only one-third complete after being stopped by COVID and a Saudi corruption scandal. The Dubai Creek Tower was Dubai’s answer to the Jeddah Tower, and was set to become the world’s tallest structure (but not officially a “building”) when completed, but coincidentally (wink, wink) construction stopped at the same time as Jeddah Tower construction stopped. Both will resume construction this year, and the world may soon have two new engineering marvels rising high above the desert.

Like most years, I’m looking at these predictions and thinking “of course these things will happen”, but like most years I also expect to look back at them in twelve months to wonder how the hell I thought any of these were likely. This is year sixteen of this game, and it remains a fun annual exercise in thinking about the world and then being embarrassed at the later realization of how little I understand this giant blue marble.

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