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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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”.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Here’s the annual scorecard for the predictions about the coming year. The original 2023 predictions were made twelve months ago when they seemed far less ludicrous than they do now.
SpaceX is going to have several spectacular failed launch attempts of its new Starship rocket, but will get the vehicle to orbit.
WRONG. They turned their new rocket into the world’s largest firework twice, but didn’t make it to orbit on either attempt. Still, there’s every reason to believe that this new rocket will eventually be successful, at which point humanity will be significantly closer to the science fiction future that I’ve been waiting for since I was a six year old at the science museum.
Apple is going to launch a new VR headset, but despite a ton of initial press it won’t catch on with consumers.
WRONG. Apple actually announced the Vision Pro headset back in June, but it isn’t yet on sale yet and thus it’s not possible to accurately judge consumer interest. Still, how many people want to pay $3499 so they can have creepier virtual meetings?
The Ukraine war will end by summer, with Russia ceding all claims to Ukrainian territory, including Crimea, in exchange for some sort of face-saving gesture like a promise that Ukraine won’t join NATO.
WRONG. There are so many reasons to be dejected about this war, and sadly after rapid gains by Ukraine last year, it has turned into a long slog with no signs of ending.
Ford will be responsible for 30% of all US EV sales by the end of the year.
WRONG. I have no idea what I was thinking with this prediction. The F-150 Lightning is one of the best electric vehicles on the market, and Ford’s electrification strategy is better than the other legacy automakers, but they’re not remotely close to holding 30% of the domestic market.
The US will default on its debt for the first time in history.
WRONG. Wrong, but my 401k is incredibly happy to be wrong about this one after a deal was signed in July. I’m not optimistic that legislators won’t blow up the country’s credit the next time the debt ceiling needs to be raised, but at least this year the lid stayed on Pandora’s Box.
Tesla will begin deliveries of its new Cybertruck by June 2023, but they won’t offer the truck for the $39,900 that was initially announced, and won’t sell a model that costs less than $50,000 in 2023.
WRONG. The Cybertruck didn’t launch until November, and did so at a higher price with lower range, towing, and payload capacity than they originally announced. I’m still a huge fan of Tesla – they build the world’s best electric vehicles and have forced every other automaker to innovate to keep up – but they could have given every truck owner a reason to go electric if they had focused on building a vehicle that catered to the needs to truck owners rather than building a stainless steel triangle because the CEO wanted to live out his Mad Max fantasies.
Donald Trump will drop out of the 2024 Presidential Race before the end of the year.
WRONG. I thought his legal troubles might drive him to drop out of the race, but instead it seems like he has decided that the best way to get out of legal jeopardy is get the job back that lets him pick the Attorney General.
Layoffs will continue in the technology sector in 2023, but there won’t be a broad recession.
CORRECT. Finally! A correct prediction! After a hiring spree during COVID, the tech sector trimmed over 200,000 jobs in 2023, but somewhat miraculously the economy as a whole continued to do well and avoided a recession while adding jobs.
At least two of the following three things will happen in the NFL: Tom Brady will retire (for real this time), Aaron Rodgers will retire, and Jimmy Garoppolo will join the New York Jets.
WRONG. Brady retired, so I at least got one. Rodgers should have retired, and the Jets would have been better off with Garoppolo at the helm after Rodgers played only four snaps for them.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny will be a flop, earning less than the $317 million that the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull made.
CORRECT. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Desiny had a $174 million box office, making it the lowest-grossing film in the franchise. My brother said it was a good film, but (like most of the world) I still haven’t seen it.
Joe Biden will announce that he is running for a second term, and no major Democrat aside from (maybe) Bernie Sanders will announce that they are running against him.
CORRECT. Democrats are lamenting the fact that the guy most likely to be their nominee next year is 81 and far from his peak years, but much like the Republicans with Trump, you’d be hard pressed to find two people who agree on who should be running instead.
Kathleen Kennedy will be removed as the head of Lucasfilm.
WRONG. How is she still in charge of Star Wars?!?! The last Star Wars movie was in 2019, and just about everyone hated it. The next announced movie is still several years away and sounds like another cash grab rather than a compelling story. Hey Disney: please, please, please go find one of the nerds who has seen the original trilogy a thousand times, owns a Stormtrooper outfit, and gets incensed at the thought of Greedo shooting first, and get them to plot out the future of the franchise.
Twitter will see declining revenue and user engagement under Elon Musk, but no viable competitor will emerge by the end of the year.
CORRECT. I think history will remember Elon Musk fondly because of the achievements of Tesla and SpaceX, but whether due to drug use, hubris, or because he’s just plain lost his marbles, his work of late has a certain Dr. Evil vibe to it. Still, no one else has filled the void left by Twitter’s slow demise, despite Facebook’s efforts with Threads and former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s attempt with Bluesky.
Athing Mu of the USA will break the 40 year old world record in the women’s 800m.
WRONG. First, as a former runner I might be the rare person who even knows who Athing Mu is, but she’s a special talent in the running world. In 2023 the reigning Olympic gold medalist finished third at the World Championships, and afterwards seemed very ready to be done with running for the year. Hopefully the Olympics re-ignites her passion for the sport, but as someone who failed to reach his full potential as a runner I can understand how hard it can be to push yourself every single day for years on end if the motivation isn’t there.
2023 will see two “quiet” supersonic planes successfully flying over our heads.
WRONG. I so want there to be supersonic passenger planes again, and hopefully Boom’s XB-1 plane flies this year, as well as NASA’s X-59, but sadly both missed their planned 2023 first flights. Just as SpaceX reinvigorated the space industry, I want to see someone make aerospace exciting again and put the X-Jet or other crazy new vehicles in the sky, rather than just making small iterations on the wing-and-tube designs that have been with us for the past 50 years.
Final score: 4/15. At first glance that’s a pretty awful score, but tigers are supposedly successful on only 10-20% of their hunts, so 4/15 is a score that puts the best tiger to shame. Predictions for 2024 will be online soon.
For reasons that are now lost to history, back in 2009 I thought it might be fun to make some predictions about the coming year. That initial post started a string of fifteen straight years of making ill-informed and usually incorrect guesses about what was to transpire over the upcoming twelve months. While the journal hasn’t seen a ton of posts over the past few years, the tradition of bad predictions has lived on, so without further ado, here’s a list of 15 things that probably won’t happen in 2023.
- SpaceX is going to have several spectacular failed launch attempts of its new Starship rocket, but will get the vehicle to orbit.
With the caveat that in a few years they will almost certainly be launching and landing the world’s largest and most powerful rocket regularly, Starship is a brand new vehicle using a lot of unproven technologies, and Elon Musk is known to push the boundaries, so I think this year they will have a few spectacular failures. If it has a Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly anywhere near the launchpad they will need to spend months rebuilding the launch infrastructure, so a single failure could result in six months of delays before they can try again.
- Apple is going to launch a new VR headset, but despite a ton of initial press it won’t catch on with consumers.
VR headsets seem (to me) like a cool idea that I would never want to actually own, but I’m also getting to the “you kids stay off of my lawn” stage of life, so maybe I’m missing something. I think augmented reality glasses will be a thing soon – imagine driving and having directions appear on your glasses, or going to a party and not having to worry about forgetting everyone’s name – but a clunky VR box to wear around so that you can experience a TRON-like view of the Grand Canyon from your living room? It seems fun once, but not something people will want to spend $1500 on.
- The Ukraine war will end by summer, with Russia ceding all claims to Ukrainian territory, including Crimea, in exchange for some sort of face-saving gesture like a promise that Ukraine won’t join NATO.
Everyone has been inspired by Ukraine’s defense against a much larger foe, but Russia continues to do incredible damage to Ukraine despite slowly losing this war. Putin needs a way to save face, and Ukraine needs Russia to stop raining destruction down upon them, so once Ukraine has retaken its territory I think that both sides will be highly motivated to negotiate an end to hostilities.
- Ford will be responsible for 30% of all US EV sales by the end of the year.
As of Q3, Ford had 7.2% of EV sales, but they are massively ramping up production of the F-150, Mach-E, and Ford Transit van, all of which have enormous demand. Ford is going to be able to sell as many EVs as they can build, and all indications are that they will be able to build a lot.
- The US will default on its debt for the first time in history.
This is a prediction that I hope doesn’t come true, but in its early days the current Republican House majority has let its far right members drive the agenda, with the supposed moderates doing nothing to stop them. As a result, I think Democrats will refuse to make concessions for agreeing to pay the country’s bills, Republicans will be unwilling to back down, and markets will panic as the US finds itself facing default. My 401k is not excited about this prospect, so again, I hope this prediction is very, very wrong.
- Tesla will begin deliveries of its new Cybertruck by June 2023, but they won’t offer the truck for the $39,900 that was initially announced, and won’t sell a model that costs less than $50,000 in 2023.
Tesla has a history of announcing prices for vehicles that don’t materialize; for example the Model 3 was supposed to cost $35,000 when it was announced, but the cheapest version of the vehicle today is $43,990, and that’s after a recent $3,000 price drop. While they will claim that a $39,900 Cybertruck is coming some day, I’m betting we definitely won’t see that price in 2023, and probably won’t see it in the future.
- Donald Trump will drop out of the 2024 Presidential Race before the end of the year.
Republican politicians have blamed Trump for losses in the past three elections, and polls seem to indicate that Republican voters want someone new. Meanwhile, there is an argument to be made that Trump is primarily running to fund his legal troubles or to benefit his own businesses, and with money not flowing as fast these days he may seek out other options for addressing his financial difficulties. With the current Justice Department understandably reticent to set a precedent by prosecuting a former President, it seems possible that a deal may be offered to end some of the legal cases against him in exchange for him getting out of the political spotlight, and with pressure coming from the Right as well it could lead to an early exit from the Presidential race.
- Layoffs will continue in the technology sector in 2023, but there won’t be a broad recession.
Statistics indicate that about 200,000 jobs have been cut in the technology sector during the most recent round of retrenchment, but as a tech worker I actually think that this was overdue. COVID made remote work the norm, allowing a massive number of people to change jobs, and for the technology sector in particular this led to gigantic salary increases as companies struggled to keep existing employees and replace lost employees. Today a lot of tech companies have people on the payroll at huge cost, and as a result it seems likely there will be significant cost-cutting going on in tech, while other industries will be able to continue as normal.
- At least two of the following three things will happen in the NFL: Tom Brady will retire (for real this time), Aaron Rodgers will retire, and Jimmy Garoppolo will join the New York Jets.
While I’m usually bad at predictions, I’m particularly bad at predicting the NFL, but the only reason Rodgers and Brady have to continue playing is that they want to win Super Bowls, and neither Tampa Bay nor Green Bay are favorites to win the Super Bowl next year. Meanwhile, San Francisco can’t afford to keep Jimmy Garoppolo, and the Jets think they are a quarterback away from going to the Super Bowl.
- Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny will be a flop, earning less than the $317 million that the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull made.
Everyone wants to see another good Indiana Jones movie, but the last one featured a terrible plot and CGI monkeys, and there doesn’t seem to be any good reason why they’re making another movie. Let’s hope they go out with a bang, but it’s been 42 years since Raiders of the Lost Ark came out; if you want a franchise to last that long, follow the lead of James Bond and get a fresh cast and creative crew.
- Joe Biden will announce that he is running for a second term, and no major Democrat aside from (maybe) Bernie Sanders will announce that they are running against him.
Biden quietly accomplished a ton during his first two years, and while there are serious concerns about his age, I’m not sure if the Democrats have an obviously better option to put on the ballot for 2024.
- Kathleen Kennedy will be removed as the head of Lucasfilm.
As an unabashed Star Wars fan I’m impressed by the new Mandalorian and Andor Star Wars shows, but have been massively disappointed by most of the new films and most of their other shows. Kennedy doesn’t seem to be a fan of Star Wars, and the franchise is too valuable to Disney to not have someone better at the helm. Were I betting man, Dave Filoni or Jon Favreau would be my picks to steer the ship moving forward.
- Twitter will see declining revenue and user engagement under Elon Musk, but no viable competitor will emerge by the end of the year.
Elon Musk’s ownership of Twitter has seemed to me to be a clinic in how not to run a business. He has alienated advertisers, fired employees without understanding their role, and fundamentally misunderstood that Twitter isn’t a technology company as much as it is a moderated community of users. That being said, there isn’t yet a viable competitor, and none seems to be on the horizon, so he’ll have a while yet to figure things out.
- Athing Mu of the USA will break the 40 year old world record in the women’s 800m.
Athing Mu has been unbeatable since she was a high schooler in New Jersey. Last year she caught COVID and it affected her season, but this year I think she’ll come back with a vengeance and is capable of breaking one of track and field’s oldest world records.
- 2023 will see two “quiet” supersonic planes successfully flying over our heads.
NASA is planning to fly their X-59 plane in 2023, and expects the plane to have a sonic “thump” that is only 1/1000th as loud as the sonic boom of existing supersonic planes. Meanwhile Boom Aerospace should be flying their XB-1 plane by mid-year. As Boeing’s long-delayed 777-X proves, there are no guarantees with test aircraft, but just as SpaceX revolutionized access to space over the past decade, I think we’re on the verge of seeing supersonic passenger travel return to the skies.
And there they are. Fifteen predictions for the fifteenth year of making predictions, and based on history most of these will be laughably incorrect twelve months from now. Still, it’s a fun little exercise, and I’ll see everyone at the start of 2024 to recount how awful this year’s prognostications actually were.
Here’s the recap of my annual exercise in public embarrassment, otherwise known as the predictions about the coming year. The original 2022 predictions were written twelve months ago in January, during the halcyon days in which Tom Brady was still retired and Elon Musk hadn’t yet decided to purchase Twitter and
burn it to the ground lead the company to newfound glory.
Democrats will keep the Senate, gaining between 1-3 seats.
CORRECT. I’m off to an unexpectedly strong start.
Democrats picked up Pennsylvania and held on in Georgia (decisively winning the “vampire vs werewolf” demographic), thus increasing their majority by one seat from 50 to 51.
Republicans will regain the House, gaining 20-30 seats.
WRONG. Republicans did win the House, but to everyone’s surprise they netted only nine additional seats. Since it took fifteen votes for the normally-routine task of electing a Speaker, I’m debating converting my 401k to canned goods before the markets have to face the fallout from likely government shutdowns and debt ceiling defaults over the next two years.
SpaceX will have a successful orbital test of their new Starship vehicle, but won’t successfully land the vehicle by the end of the year.
WRONG. SpaceX was blasting its new rocket into the sky seemingly every week back in 2021, but despite getting clearance from the FAA for an orbital test, they didn’t attempt a single launch in 2022. Hopefully 2023 will be the year that sees this game-changing rocket usher us into the Star Trek future we’ve been waiting for since the Apollo program ended.
A viable Facebook competitor is finally going to emerge.
WRONG. I feel like I’ve been predicting this one for years, and for years it hasn’t happened. There are some obvious challenges – any new social network is pointless unless it has a lot of users, so barrier to entry is massive – but Facebook is distracted with selling virtual real estate to cartoon characters when the world really just needs a social network that can effectively help people find dates, jobs, and plumbers.
Median home prices will decline 5-10 percent by the end of the year.
WRONG. Median home prices ended 2021 at $423,600, and despite the mortgage rates climbing from 3% to 7% in 2022, average home prices still increased to $454,900 as of Q3. With only one out of five correct, the 2022 predictions are obviously not going well thus far.
President Biden’s Build Back Better bill will pass in some form this year.
NAILED IT. Joe Manchin made things dicey for a while, but once they tricked him by changing the name to the Inflation Reduction Act, the House & Senate couldn’t move fast enough to pass this thing before the election. The engineer in me is excited to see legislation that speeds up the transition to batteries, wind and solar, while the environmentalist in me is looking forward to seeing a future that hopefully has a few unmelted glaciers in it.
Tesla will face lawsuits or otherwise be forced to issue refunds for its delays in delivering on its “full self driving” package.
CORRECT. A class action lawsuit was filed in September. Elon Musk has been making yearly promises that full self driving is “only a year away” every year since 2014, so as much as I admire Tesla’s engineering, it seems only fair to start sending out refunds to people who didn’t realize that when Elon said “one year away” he was using Jupiter years and not Earth years.
COVID will fade into the background and life will return to normal once the Omicron wave subsides.
CORRECT. In retrospect this prediction seems relatively obvious, but after nearly three years of masks and lockdowns it has been a nice return to normalcy to be able to visit friends or travel on an airplane without feeling like a character in a post-apocalypic disaster movie.
Amazon is going to announce a shipping service to compete with UPS and Fedex.
WRONG. This seems like it could be an easy profit center for Amazon, but I’m a programmer, not a businessman, so I’ll defer to the people that actually know what they’re doing to explain why a company that is already delivering to the same places as UPS each day couldn’t also make money shipping private parcels.
There will be monster trades for at least two of these three: Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson and Derek Carr. I’ll also predict that Deshaun Watson is going to stay unemployed and that the Browns are sticking with Baker.
WRONG. At least I got Russell Wilson correct? When I wrote these predictions last year, Tom Brady was still retired, and I had no idea that the Browns wanted to make a younger version of Bill Cosby the face of their franchise. As someone recently wrote in the Washington Post, I’m not going to stop watching football, but I probably should.
The Ford F-150 Lightning will run away with Motortrend’s 2022 Truck of the Year award.
CORRECT. Not only did it win, but it won unanimously. I’m really impressed with Ford’s electrification efforts so far, and the current F-150 was built on a platform that is still optimized for gas powered vehicles. When they eventually switch their manufacturing to a new platform that is optimized for electric Ford is going to give Tesla a run for their money.
This year will finally see major progress in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
WRONG. Not only didn’t this happen, but Benjamin Netanyahu was re-elected for a sixth term, so the prospects of a peaceful resolution anytime soon appear grim. Sometimes I don’t understand the humans.
At least three more major newspapers will follow the Chicago Sun Times and become non-profits.
WRONG. As far as I can tell not even a single newspaper took the non-profit route this year. Does anyone reading this journal have a spare hundred million to throw at the LA Times or other newspapers? The death of local news is going to be something that historians are writing about fifty years from now.
Video game streaming will become a major selling point of streaming services like Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Apple TV.
WRONG. The fact that this prediction didn’t come true surprises me greatly. There are rumors that Amazon is spending a billion dollars on the Lord of the Rings series, surely they could get a better return on investment by putting Wii Golf and Doom on Fire TV sticks?
The Browns will win the AFC North and will win at least 11 regular season games.
WRONG. I am never making another prediction about the Browns again.
Final score: 5/15, which surprisingly is an above-average result. 2023 will mark the fifteenth year of making incorrect guesses about the future; those predictions should be online in the next couple of weeks.
Continuing my questionable tradition of making bad predictions about the coming year, here are the 14th annual yearly predictions. As always, have a look at my horrendous track record before you go out and invest your savings based on anything suggested below.
- In the 2022 midterms, Democrats will keep the Senate, gaining between 1-3 seats. It’s a bad election environment for Democrats, but they have a favorable Senate map. There are 14 Democratic Senators up for reelection while Republicans are defending 20 seats. While a state like Georgia may flip Republican, Democrats have decent pickup opportunities in Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
- Another election prediction, Republicans will regain the House, gaining 20-30 seats. Between redistricting, a history of losses by the President’s party in midterms, and a tough election environment, it looks like a bad year for House Democrats.
- SpaceX will have a successful orbital test of their new Starship vehicle, but won’t successfully land the vehicle by the end of the year. I think it’s going to take them a few tries to get a vehicle to orbit and back, and the FAA might slow down the cadence of launches, but if they can launch at least three tests I think one will successfully get to space and make it back to the surface, even if the “surface” means a soft landing out on the ocean.
- A viable Facebook competitor is finally going to emerge. This prediction is more of a wish rather than something I feel confident will happen, but Facebook is in the doghouse with users and regulators, so there has never been a better time for someone else to launch a competing social network. We’ve had almost two decades to figure out how people use social networks, so whatever comes next can take those learnings to create something vastly better – imagine if instead of just being able to click the “surprised face” emoji when someone posts a picture of their breakfast, you could also easily use your social network to get a job, find a date, or meet an exercise buddy?
- Median home prices will decline 5-10 percent by the end of the year. Median home prices are at $408,100 for Q4 2021, a slight dip from Q3, and as interest rates rise and construction costs are less affected by supply chain bottlenecks it seems like they’ll continue to decline and return to where they were at the start of 2021.
- President Biden’s Build Back Better bill will pass in some form this year. If Democrats will capitulate to Joe Manchin’s demands they can pass something, and “we passed a bunch legislation addressing health care and climate change, and if you elect more Democrats we’ll be able to do even more” is the argument I’d want to be making if I was insane enough to be a politician.
- Tesla will face lawsuits or otherwise be forced to issue refunds for its delays in delivering on its “full self driving” package. Since 2016 Tesla has been selling a “full self driving” package, and every year since then Elon Musk has been saying that they were a year away from delivering it. Tesla has created some incredible technology and deserves a ton of credit for their vehicles, but charging customers thousands of dollars for a feature that was promised but not delivered will finally catch up with them.
- COVID will fade into the background and life will return to normal once the Omicron wave subsides. After a year of waiting for a vaccine, followed by a year of people not getting that vaccine, the Omicron variant will finally be the catalyst that ends this pandemic. Omicron is so contagious that pretty much everyone will at least be exposed to it, and the combination of vaccine immunity and natural immunity will finally get us through this virus. I’m basing this prediction on numbers from South Africa, where case rates have declined precipitously from their early-December peak.
- Amazon is going to announce a shipping service to compete with UPS and Fedex. Amazon already delivers millions of packages each day, so leveraging that infrastructure to do customer shipping seems like an easy win. Amazon has plenty of convenient dropoff locations (lockers, stores, etc), which eliminates the cost of sending a driver to someone’s house for pickups, and they clearly know how to do 1-2 day delivery, so this seems like an area where Amazon could charge less than competitors and still make a hefty profit.
- It is going to be a wild offseason for NFL quarterbacks. There are vacancies in Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh, a few big name QBs seem disgruntled, and there aren’t a lot of highly-touted prospects in the draft, so the 2022 season will start with a lot of new faces throwing the ball. I’ll predict that there will be monster trades for at least two of these three: Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson and Derek Carr. I’ll also predict that despite the hot market, Deshaun Watson is going to stay unemployed as long as he remains in legal trouble, and that the Browns are sticking with Baker.
- The Ford F-150 Lightning will run away with Motortrend’s 2022 Truck of the Year award. I’m incredibly impressed with Ford’s electrification efforts, and think that they are going to surprise a lot of people over the next decade.
- This year will finally see major progress in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel’s new president has expressed a desire to make progress, the Biden administration wants to see progress, so this will finally be the year the talks produce meaningful results.
- At least three more major newspapers will follow the Chicago Sun Times and become non-profits. In addition to the Sun Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer became a non-profit in 2016, and the Tampa Bay Times has been a non-profit for decades, but 2022 will be the year that more foundations and donors step in to save the dying local news industry. There is an increasing public awareness of the need for accurate and unbiased local news, and rather than seeing more newsrooms die, this year will see the NPR business model applied to print journalism.
- 2022 will see video game streaming become a major selling point of streaming services like Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Apple TV. Tech companies have been paying huge sums to stream movies and develop TV shows, but have thus far mostly just dabbled in video games. With streaming hardware containing more computing power than older game consoles, and vast libraries of vintage games available, this year will see a massive push to put game libraries in everyone’s TV set, and tech companies will start buying up game studios so that we can all play Mario Kart and Angry Birds using our Prime subscription.
- One final prediction: the Browns will win the AFC North and will win at least 11 regular season games. There, I’ve jinxed them, and they’ll definitely go 2-15 now, but they’ve got all of the necessary pieces, and if they can’t win with this team then they’ll probably have to start over in 2023 with a new quarterback, and the universe can’t hate Cleveland enough to put everyone through that again, can it?
And that’s it. It is shockingly difficult to come up with fifteen predictions for the new year, but for some twisted reason I still enjoy doing them. We can all reconvene in twelve months, at which time we can recap how embarrassingly incorrect these guesses about 2022 turned out to be.
For reasons that even I don’t understand, each year I like to make predictions about the coming year and then revisit those predictions twelve months later to see how wrong I got things. Here’s the recap of the 2021 predictions:
- The COVID vaccine rollout will go smoothly once the new administration settles in, and the economy will rebound quickly once vaccination rates hit critical mass, causing the current unemployment rate of 6.7% to drop below 4.0% by the end of the year.
CORRECT. The unemployment rate hit 3.9% in December, and even critics seem to agree that the vaccine rollout has been smooth. The thing I failed to predict was that a year later only 62.9% of the population would be fully vaccinated against COVID and opposition to vaccination requirements would become increasingly mainstream; I’m not looking forward to future battles over whether or not to continue requiring vaccination for polio and diphtheria.
- At least one of the following Senators will leave the Republican party this year and begin caucusing with Democrats: Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, or Pat Toomey.
WRONG. This prediction was a longshot, but I’m a little surprised that someone like Murkowski or Collins didn’t jump ship. Both are on the fringe of their party and could win re-election as Democrats, and either of them could have replaced Joe Manchin as the swing vote for the Build Back Better bill, securing just about anything they wanted in return for helping to get that bill across the finish line.
- SpaceX will not conduct an orbital test of their new Starship rocket, but will be on track to do so in 2022.
CORRECT. Obligatory comment: SPACE IS SO AWESOME AND THIS IS THE BEST TIME IN HISTORY FOR ADVANCEMENTS IN SPACEFLIGHT TECHNOLOGY AND I AM SO HAPPY. That bit out of the way, SpaceX was launching test flights of its new vehicle seemingly every few weeks earlier in the year, but after a successful sub-orbital flight in May they have been focused on building their launchpad, getting FAA approval, and constructing orbital test vehicles. The latest estimate is that we may see an orbital test in March of 2022, which is incredibly exciting given the potential of this new vehicle to economically transport humans and cargo beyond Earth.
- Rivian will begin delivery of their all-electric R1T truck before the end of the summer, and will steal some of Tesla’s thunder by winning the truck of the year award from Motor Trend.
CORRECT. Rivian’s R1T truck did indeed win Motortrend Truck of the Year, with Motortrend describing it as “the most remarkable pickup truck we’ve ever driven”. For a while it seemed like it was mostly just engineers who understood that electric vehicles weren’t just for tree huggers but were also vastly superior technology, but with Tesla, Rivian, and even Ford pumping out incredible vehicles like the electric Mustang and F-150, the rest of the world is starting to come to the same realization.
- The Browns will trade back at least twice during the 2021 NFL draft, and will end the draft with at least one extra 2022 draft pick in the third round or better.
WRONG. The Browns did pick up an extra 2022 fourth round pick, but that was their only trade back. Their first two draft picks were both named to postseason all-rookie teams, so even without trading back, the math guys still got it right. They might not win much during the season, but the Browns are perennial offseason champs.
- Americans will win at least three gold medals in the mid-distance and distance events at the Tokyo Olympics.
WRONG. Nineteen year old 800m runner Athing Mu was a true phenom, going from being a high school star in 2019 to gold medal winner in 2021, but she was America’s only gold medal winner in the mid-distance and distance events. The United States did also pick up a silver medal in the women’s steeplechase and bronze medals in the men’s 5000m, women’s 800m, and women’s marathon, but my hopes for three gold medals was unfortunately optimistic.
- The Avatar sequel will bring people back to movie theaters and will be on its way towards a top-three all-time box office showing by the time these prediction are revisited next year.
EMBARRASSINGLY WRONG. Apparently they announced in July 2020 that the Avatar 2 release date was going to be pushed back to December 2022 and I missed that news and thus made a truly awful prediction. The movie was originally supposed to come out in 2015, so after seven years of delay hopefully James Cameron finally gets this film on screens by the end of this year.
- The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will receive permanent protection, either through a national monument designation or via an act of Congress.
WRONG. The Build Back Better Act at one point included provisions that would have prevented drilling in the refuge, but that bill is currently in limbo and no other protections have been proposed. The world is trying to quit its addiction to oil, so it seems incredibly short-sighted to me to risk an amazing natural wonder for a few more barrels.
- Congress will pass bills shoring up Obamacare, addressing voting rights, and dealing with immigration, but nothing will get through the Senate related to gun control, marijuana legalization, or giving statehood to Puerto Rico and Washington DC.
WRONG. The Build Back Better Act would have shored up Obamacare but seems to be in limbo now, and Democrats continue to fail to understand that they need to pare back ambitions on voting rights and immigration so that ten Republican Senators will join them, so this prediction didn’t pan out. While it’s tempting to believe that there’s nothing that could get ten Republican votes, Republicans did vote for the $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill that will be hugely transformational. Also, even though it didn’t get any Republican votes the $1.9 trillion Covid Relief bill was also a profoundly important piece of legislation that prevented massive cutbacks at the state and local government levels. While I would have preferred to see Democrats figure out how to pass legislation fixing the holes in Obamacare, pushing to mitigate climate change, etc, I’m amazed that two huge pieces of legislation that will have incredibly beneficial effects over the next ten years passed and most Democrats still seem to view the past year as a failure.
- Google will announce some sort of streaming service to compete with Netflix, leveraging its massive library of YouTube content and its expertise in AI for targeting content.
WRONG. YouTube TV apparently has between 3-4 million subscribers, which is a paltry number compared to something like Disney+ and its 118 million subscribers. I have the business sense of a rock, but it still seems to me like streaming is an area that Google should dominate, but instead year after year they are allowing other companies to become more and more entrenched while Google does almost nothing.
- 2021 will see high-speed, wireless home internet begin to displace wired home internet.
WRONG. Tortoises move slowly, glaciers move even more slowly, and then there are the telecoms. Verizon, AT&T, etc could all easily take over the home internet market from the cable companies, but apparently they plan to rollout 5G home internet at about the same time that the personal robots and flying cars arrive.
- Following Brexit, Scotland will vote for independence and will rejoin the EU.
WRONG. In my defense I admitted that this was unlikely to happen this year, but the process is even more complex than I realized, apparently requiring approval from the UK before Scotland can even put another independence vote on the ballot.
- Facebook and Twitter will take significant actions to address misinformation, threats, and bots on their networks.
WRONG. I continue to be befuddled as to how a company whose sole product is 280 character messages that their brilliant marketing department decided to call “tweets” makes money. Meanwhile Facebook seems to be in a battle with Kim Jong-Un for the top spot on the “world’s least popular” list. Still, I’ve been predicting for years that both Twitter and Facebook would finally pay a price for their shortcomings, and for years I’ve been utterly wrong, so what do I know.
- Tesla will begin production of the Tesla Semi, but will delay production of the Cybertruck to 2022.
HALF CORRECT. The Cybertruck is now supposed to arrive in 2023 (originally scheduled to launch in 2021). In January 2021 Elon Musk said the Tesla Semi would ship by the end of the year, but later in the year said it wouldn’t launch until 2023; it was originally supposed to launch in 2019. Musk has brought some truly transformational technology to market over the past decade so I probably shouldn’t criticize, but still… maybe company resources should go towards getting the current roadmap to market before announcing an initiative to create C3-PO?
- With the NBA season ending a month later than normal, most NBA players will opt out of playing in the Olympics, and as a result the USA will not win the gold or silver medal.
WRONG. While most of the major stars like Steph Curry and James Harden did end up skipping the Olympics, the USA still won a gold medal despite losing to Nigeria and Australia in their first two exhibition games, and then having their 25-game Olympic win streak broken in a loss to France in their first game in Tokyo.
The final tally for 2021: 3.5 out of 15 (23%). A result that should be terribly embarrassing, but it’s far from my worst showing ever, and the whole reason these predictions are fun to make is because I try to stay away from anything too obvious. The 2022 version should be online soon for those who like to follow along at home.
This year will mark thirteen years of making laughably incorrect predictions about the coming year. I have intentionally skipped any predictions related to the on-field performance of the Cleveland Browns to avoid having the universe unleash its jinxing powers against them.
- The COVID vaccine rollout will go smoothly once the new administration settles in, and the economy will rebound quickly once vaccination rates hit critical mass, causing the current unemployment rate of 6.7% to drop below 4.0% by the end of the year. I’m basing this prediction on the 1918 Influenza, which ended and saw everyone party during the Roaring Twenties.
- At least one of the following Senators will leave the Republican party this year and begin caucusing with Democrats: Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, or Pat Toomey. None of these four need to be too worried about re-election, all have expressed grave concerns with the direction of their party, and with Democrats in control of the Senate they would wield huge legislative influence as swing votes if they decided to switch.
- SpaceX will not conduct an orbital test of their new Starship rocket, but will be on track to do so in 2022. SpaceX previously announced that they would start commercial launches of their new vehicle in 2021, and they have already launched prototypes eight miles into the atmosphere, but there’s a huge difference between eight miles and an orbital flight. While it would be awesome to see them pull off commercial flights in 2021, test flights in 2022 with commercial flights a year or two later would still be an incredible achievement.
- Rivian will begin delivery of their all-electric R1T truck before the end of the summer, and will steal some of Tesla’s thunder by winning the car/truck/SUV of the year award from Motor Trend. I know some people love Tesla’s Cybertruck, but I think Tesla made a huge mistake by packing amazing tech into an exterior that a majority of current truck owners won’t want to drive. Given its controversial exterior, the Cybertruck provides an opening for Rivian to capture the market for everyone who wants a truck with a technologically-advanced electric powertrain without having to drive something that looks like it came from a Mad Max movie.
- The Browns will trade back at least twice during the 2021 NFL draft, and will end the draft with at least one extra 2022 draft pick in the third round or better. I know the draft is in Cleveland and the Browns expect to be competitive next year, but I think the math guys in their front office are aware that if you want a team to be consistently good you need to exploit inefficiencies in the system, and a major inefficiency is that teams undervalue future draft picks. If you disagree, ask the Texans and Dolphins how they feel about this upcoming draft.
- Americans will win at least three gold medals in the mid-distance and distance events at the Tokyo Olympics. The world should be able to figure out a way to hold the Olympics by the end of the summer, and while the men’s 800m is the only event in this category in which an American might be considered the favorite, athletes like Emma Coburn and Galen Rupp have the potential to surprise everyone, particularly after being able to use 2020 to get healthy and spend the time base training.
- The Avatar sequel will bring people back to movie theaters and will be on its way towards a top-three all-time box office showing by the time these prediction are revisited next year. The original Avatar hasn’t aged well, and conventional wisdom seems to be questioning whether there’s an appetite for a sequel, much less the four that are planned, but there are doubts about every movie James Cameron makes, and he always delivers; I remember snide rumors about how Titanic was over budget and that the director had lost his mind, Fox Studios initially passed on the original Avatar, etc. Time after time people doubt him, but in the end James Cameron knows how to put something new and compelling on a screen.
- The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will receive permanent protection, either through a national monument designation or via an act of Congress. In its waning days the Trump administration auctioned off drilling rights in ANWR, and big oil companies chose not to bid. Banks don’t want to finance such a controversial project, the world is moving away from fossil fuels, and any drilling attempts will face innumerable lawsuits before they can proceed, so oil companies seem to have given up the push to turn a pristine wildlife refuge into an oilfield, meaning the primary argument against permanent protection is now gone.
- Congress will pass bills shoring up Obamacare, addressing voting rights, and dealing with immigration, but nothing will get through the Senate related to gun control, marijuana legalization, or giving statehood to Puerto Rico and Washington DC. While the Left is understandably overjoyed at the election outcome, they will need to lower their expectations as the reality of a 50-50 Senate becomes apparent.
- Google will announce some sort of streaming service to compete with Netflix, leveraging its massive library of YouTube content and its expertise in AI for targeting content. While there are currently YouTube apps that you can run on a TV, they are clunky and hard to use, and Google will find a way to better monetize its existing assets while offering additional content via original programming, curated YouTube content, or possibly an acquisition of an existing studio.
- 2021 will see high-speed, wireless home internet begin to displace wired home internet. Between ultra wideband 5G and satellite services like Starlink, just as most people no longer use landlines for phone service, 2021 will be the year that begins the transition to home internet that doesn’t require a cable, DSL or fiber connection.
- Following Brexit, Scotland will vote for independence and will rejoin the EU. The process of actually putting a referendum in front of voters may take some time, and Scotland leaving the UK may prove just as messy as Brexit was, so it’s probably premature to suggest a vote will happen in 2021, but if I’m going to make incorrect predictions anyhow, why not make bold incorrect predictions?
- Facebook and Twitter will take significant actions to address misinformation, threats, and bots on their networks. Both companies are more than capable of better moderation if they choose to do so (Facebook in particular has tons of AI expertise that is currently used to drive clicks, but that could be easily redirected to content moderation), and social media is in the crosshairs of legislators from both parties, so they will be extremely motivated to do whatever they can to change the narrative that heavy regulation is urgently needed.
- Tesla will begin production of the Tesla Semi, but will delay production of the Cybertruck to 2022. The Tesla Semi was originally supposed to be available in 2019, then 2020, but 2021 will finally see it deployed. The Cybertruck is supposed to start shipping in 2021, but the factory where it will be built is still under construction and they are planning on using untested new manufacturing processes, so it’s hard to envision it being ready in the next twelve months.
- With the NBA season ending a month later than normal, most NBA players will opt out of playing in the Olympics, and as a result the USA will not win the gold medal; I’ll go further and predict that they don’t win the silver medal, either. I hope I’m wrong on this prediction, but after a shortened offseason and very little time between the end of the playoffs and the Olympics, players will be exhausted and will choose to wait three years for their chance to win a gold medal in the 2024 Games.
There they are; with any luck at least three or four will actually come to pass, or if the universe smiles upon me maybe six will come to pass, matching the 40% success rate of 2020. The comments link is available as always for anyone who wants to add their own predictions, and we can laugh at them together in twelve months.
The annual exercise of attempting to predict events for the coming year continued in 2020, and twelve months later it’s time to revisit how awful those prediction turned out. In an ironic twist, however, after the most unpredictable year that anyone has seen in decades, I managed to make way more correct predictions than normal; I still didn’t break fifty percent, but I’m notoriously bad at this game. Here’s the recap:
- Here are the election predictions for 2020:
- Either Joe Biden or Pete Buttigieg will be the Democratic nominee… I suspect that South Carolina will probably be a turning point.
CORRECT. This one may seem obvious in retrospect, but at the time it was made Biden hadn’t yet won a single primary, and I TOTALLY NAILED IT. Biden was the nominee, and South Carolina was what changed his fortunes.
- Democrats will end up gaining 3-4 seats in the Senate.
CORRECT. After the November election when the Democrats underperformed in Maine and North Carolina this prediction was a clear loser, but with their shocking wins on January 5 in Georgia this prediction rose from the ashes like a phoenix; who would have expected Georgia to be more blue than Maine?
- Democrats will maintain control of the House but lose a few seats overall.
HALF CORRECT. They lost more than a few seats – current counts have them on track to lose thirteen – so I’m only giving half credit.
- Trump will lose in the general election.
CORRECT. Trump lost, but the election was much closer than expected based on the polls. I know a huge chunk of the country loves him, but it scares me that someone so willing to promote lies and viciously attack anyone who disagrees with him remains the face of the Republican party.
- Virgin Galactic will launch its first paying space tourists, and Richard Branson will finally take a ride on his new space plane.
WRONG. When the company was founded they hoped to have their maiden flight by 2009. Space is hard, but even knowing the difficulty of taking something like a space plane from “it works” to “it’s safe for tourists”, I’m still surprised they are taking so long to achieve their goals.
- Coming off of a seventh-place finish in the 2019 World Championships, the US men’s basketball team will go undefeated in the Olympics, winning each game by no less than ten points.
TOTALLY WRONG. The reason I got this wrong? THEY POSTPONED THE FREAKING OLYMPICS BECAUSE OF A GLOBAL PANDEMIC.
- Tesla will announce major updates to its Model S and Model X vehicles.
NOT EVEN CLOSE TO CORRECT. The Model S debuted in 2012, and while it has seen minor updates since its launch, Tesla hasn’t introduced any technology to its flagship vehicle that has made people want to rush out and buy it; instead sales have been steadily cannibalized by the less expensive models. I assume that 2021 has to be the year Tesla rolls out crazy new technology for its top-end models, but attempting to predict what Elon Musk will do next is a fool’s errand.
- Lebron James will win his fifth NBA MVP award and his fourth NBA championship.
HALF CORRECT. I think he deserved MVP, but I’ll take half credit for getting the NBA championship prediction right.
- Boeing’s 737 MAX plane, grounded since March 2019, will not fly again in the US until the July-September timeframe.
WRONG. Flights didn’t resume until December 2020. This engineering snafu cost several hundred lives and lost Boeing between $20-60 billion. Engineering is hard, but from most accounts this disaster was a preventable one that hopefully won’t ever occur again.
- The deployment of faster 5G wireless will be slow and problematic through 2020… Verizon will not have made usable 5G available at my house by the end of the year.
HALF CORRECT. This prediction is a tough one to judge – Verizon has rolled out what it calls “Nationwide 5G” across much of the country, but if you read the fine print it’s mostly a marketing gimmick that means you get 4G speeds while a 5G icon is displayed on your phone. The much faster “ultra wideband” 5G is still only available in a tiny handful of locations, and not in my neighborhood. I’m claiming half credit.
- Wonder Woman 1984 will be the top-grossing comic book movie of the year… I’ll predict something in the $275-325 million range.
SO WRONG. Remember back in the olden days of 2019 when people went to movie theaters?
- At least two of the following three things will happen: Drew Brees will return for one more year with the Saints but retire when the season ends, Tom Brady will return for one more year with the Patriots but retire when the season ends, or Andrew Luck will announce that he is ending his retirement and returning to the Colts.
UNBELIEVABLY WRONG. I knew this one was a longshot when I wrote it, but wow, spectacularly wrong. Has anyone seen Andrew Luck in the past two years? He’s just… gone. And Brady to Tampa Bay… I assume no one saw that coming a year ago.
- Mobile phones with folding screens will be the next big idea in tech that turns out to not have a market.
HALF CORRECT. This prediction is kind of hard to judge since the mobile phone companies are still pushing folding phones, but based on estimated sales figures of just 500,000 Galaxy Fold phones being sold worldwide, it sure doesn’t seem like consumers are rushing out to buy them. I’m going to take a half credit here for a prediction that looks right today, but could still prove wrong a few years from now.
- SpaceX will launch astronauts to the space station by the end of summer, but Boeing will not launch astronauts in 2020.
CORRECT. The Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission carried astronauts Doug Hurley and Robert Behnken to the space station on May 30. Meanwhile Boeing has pushed their second, uncrewed test flight to no sooner than March 2021. Also, spaceships are awesome.
- Apple will either purchase an existing studio, partner with another streaming service, or in some other way significantly beef up the content library for its Apple TV service.
WRONG. Completely and totally got this one wrong, but after the box office carnage of 2020, with studios in debt and theaters empty, I could suggest a great (and economical) way for Apple to vastly increase the amount of shows they offer in 2021.
The final tally for 2020: 6 out of 15 (40%). Shockingly, that ties with 2012 as the third-best showing ever, behind only 2010 (44%) and 2011 (50%). Granted, there were four half-points awarded this year, but after several years of getting most predictions completely wrong, I’ll take it.
Check back in a week or two as I return to making guesses about the coming year that we can all laugh about later.
Now in its twelfth inglorious year, here’s my annual list of predictions for the new year. For anyone who has followed along in the past, my track record is… not great… so you may want to get a second opinion before heading to Vegas or calling your stock broker based on anything written here.
- Here are the obligatory political predictions for the upcoming election season. Important caveat: I’m terrible at predictions, and I also think there is enough uncertainty in the economy, world events, and the candidates themselves to swing the election wildly in either direction:
- Either Joe Biden or Pete Buttigieg will be the Democratic nominee. I think the early success of Bernie Sanders is going to make Democrats desperate to find a more centrist candidate who has a better chance of beating Trump, which gives an advantage to Biden and Buttigieg. I suspect that South Carolina will probably be a turning point – if Buttigieg wins there that will send a signal and he should clean up on Super Tuesday, but if Biden can win big in South Carolina then that will position him well to earn the most delegates in the following week’s primaries.
- Democrats will end up gaining 3-4 seats in the Senate. It’s a bad map for Republicans – they are defending 23 seats vs just 12 for Democrats, so they are on defense in some blue-ish states. I suspect Democrats will flip Arizona, Colorado and Maine, but lose Alabama, which would result in a 50-50 split Senate.
- Democrats will maintain control of the House but lose a few seats overall. The Democrats had a 235-199 advantage after the last election, so it would take a pretty big win for the Republicans to take back power. However, Democrats who won in Trump districts are going to have a harder time earning re-election now that attention has been focused for months on impeachment after they based their election campaigns on everyday issues like health care.
- Trump will lose in the general election. I don’t like putting that into writing because I don’t feel like it’s going to happen, particularly if someone like Bernie is the Democratic nominee, but I’m hoping the country is better than the reality show it has been for the past four years. Feelings aside, I have trouble believing that the good economic numbers that have been Trump’s main argument with swing voters will continue to hold up through the end of the year, or that a global crisis like the coronavirus won’t expose the lack of competence in the current administration, much like Katrina revealed problems in the second Bush administration.
- Virgin Galactic will launch its first paying space tourists, and Richard Branson will finally take a ride on his new space plane. Space is awesome, and having a reliable way of putting rich tourists beyond the atmosphere is an excellent first step towards a world where I someday get to see the Earth from orbit.
- Coming off of a seventh-place finish in the 2019 World Championships, the US men’s basketball team will go undefeated in the Olympics, winning each game by no less than ten points. The world is catching up to America in basketball, but I think Steph Curry, rested after a year in which Golden State misses the playoffs, and a motivated James Harden will be awfully tough to stop.
- Tesla will announce major updates to its Model S and Model X vehicles; these changes will go far beyond minor cosmetic updates or slight range boosts. All-but-verified rumors say that Tesla will be announcing improved battery technology later this year. Combined with new manufacturing processes that Tesla has developed for its other models, the company will have the opportunity to re-imagine its flagship vehicles, differentiating them from the lower-end Model 3 and Model Y, and re-invigorating sales.
- Lebron James will win his fifth NBA MVP award and his fourth NBA championship. Being from Cleveland I’m biased, but he took a mediocre Cavs team to the championship numerous times, and is now doing wonders with the Lakers. People love having heroes, so I think the story of the 35 year old guy leading a storied franchise to the league’s best record is going to earn him another MVP trophy, to be followed shortly thereafter with another NBA championship.
- Despite some positive news from the FAA, Boeing’s 737 MAX plane, grounded since March 2019, will not fly again in the US until the July-September timeframe. As an engineer, seeing some of the reports that have come out during the investigation into the plane’s failings have been demoralizing – removing redundancy in critical sensor systems to cut costs, management decisions that forced engineers to come up with complex solutions when simpler options should have been possible, etc, etc. Hopefully Boeing emerges from this snafu with a renewed focus on innovation and quality, but having seen behind the curtains I’m not optimistic that will be the case.
- The deployment of faster 5G wireless will be slow and problematic through 2020, with deployments mostly limited to high-density areas in some cities; specifically, I’ll predict that Verizon will not have made usable 5G available at my house by the end of the year. 5G requires more towers than previous technologies, and based on my experience in Los Angeles, wireless carriers are having trouble deploying enough towers to create meaningful coverage areas.
- Wonder Woman 1984 will be the top-grossing comic book movie of the year, but will lag far behind the $412 million earned by its predecessor; I’ll predict something in the $275-325 million range. The original movie was fun but not particularly good, and Warner Brothers has a terrible record of making comic book movies.
- At least two of the following three things will happen: Drew Brees will return for one more year with the Saints but retire when the season ends, Tom Brady will return for one more year with the Patriots but retire when the season ends, or Andrew Luck will announce that he is ending his retirement and returning to the Colts. I think it is almost certain that both Brady and Brees come back for another year, but I also think both of them want to go out as stars and will retire while they are still among the league’s best quarterbacks. Meanwhile, Andrew Luck retired for health reasons, and the circumstances around his retirement (the Colts let him keep $16 million in salary that they could have recouped) make me wonder if he hasn’t expressed some desire to play again when he’s healthy.
- Mobile phones with folding screens will be the next big idea in tech that turns out to not have a market. Just like 3D televisions several years ago, folding cell phones (which “unfold” to give you a bigger screen) sound like a good idea, but they will be bigger, less capable, and more prone to breaking than normal phones, all while being significantly more expensive. While some people will purchase them, I strongly suspect that most people won’t want a device that is neither a good phone nor a good tablet, particularly when they could spend the same amount of money on two separate devices that individually do their jobs much, much better.
- SpaceX will launch astronauts to the space station by the end of summer, but Boeing will not launch astronauts in 2020. SpaceX successfully completed their in-flight abort test (click and go to the 20:05 mark for a cool video of the crew module escaping, followed by the main rocket going BOOM), and despite the slow pace of rocketry they should be on-track to launch humans soon. Boeing, meanwhile, had a troubled first test and needs to do additional work to prove that their capsule can fly safely.
- Apple will either purchase an existing studio, partner with another streaming service, or in some other way significantly beef up the content library for its Apple TV service, since rumors state there seems to be limited interest in their current offerings. Currently Apple is reported to be spending $6 billion on developing original content, but it is lagging far behind the number of subscribers for other services. Disney purchased Marvel for $4 billion and also paid $4 billion for Lucasfilm – surely Apple would be willing to spend a similar amount to augment its own content offerings.
A bit late this year, but there they are. Given my recent track record of getting only 20-30% of them right, expect most of these to be embarrassingly wrong when the carnage is tallied next January. As always, the comments link is available for anyone who wants to join the madness and add their own thoughts on the coming year.
For over a decade I’ve made an annual effort at self-flagellation by posting predictions for the coming year, and looking over the predictions for 2019 I made a particularly large mess of it this year. Here’s the embarrassing results of this year’s effort.
Tiger Woods will return to the world golf #1 ranking at some point in 2019.
While he improved his ranking from #1199 all the way up to #5, he was inconsistent and never really threatened to go to #1. This prediction is the first of many that I got wrong this year.
Democrats will not seriously pursue impeachment of Donald Trump in 2019.
In my defense, I added the following caveat to this prediction: “I may be either giving Democrats too much credit, underestimating what Robert Mueller’s investigation will uncover, or be too optimistic about Trump not doing anything so crazy that impeachment becomes inevitable.” I think Democrats would have been better off pushing for a censure or investigation instead of jumping straight to impeachment, but I’m guessing Nancy Pelosi figured that anything less than impeachment would divide Democrats during the primary season, and so knowing that no amount of evidence would convince the Senate to convict Trump she simply rushed to get the whole thing over with as quickly as possible.
After Disney’s $71.3 billion acquisition of Fox Studios, 2019 will see another massive media merger.
I’m surprised that everyone is pursuing their own streaming strategy and that there hasn’t been more consolidation, but it seems like Warner Brothers, CBS and Universal are going to hold out as long as they can before bowing to inevitability. I’m now zero-for-three in the prediction game for the year.
After making almost $60 billion in profits in 2018, Apple will see its lowest yearly profits since it made $40 billion in 2014.
I’ve been debating quitting the iPhone for a while now, but the fact that I still have one should have been a warning flag against making this prediction. Apple reported lower profits this year than in 2018, but still brought in $55 billion, well above what I predicted.
Facebook will begin to see its active user base erode. By the end of the year the number of people “quitting Facebook” will be a noticeable minority, and other companies will be either planning or promoting legitimate Facebook alternatives in an effort to snatch up the Facebook deserters.
There’s a lot to unpack in this prediction, but the quick version is that I thought there would be a clear threat to Facebook’s dominance in the social media space, and that hasn’t materialized. Governments are starting to legislate against Facebook’s more odious practices, and many users are now aware of the fact that Facebook is doing a lot of really sketchy things, but there’s no reason to believe that anything will change soon.
By the end of the year the leading Democratic candidates will be Elizabeth Warren, a new face that the party’s Progressive wing coalesces around (probably someone like Kamala Harris), and someone with executive experience (a governor, military leader, or former executive branch leader) who no one is paying any attention to right now. If Bernie Sanders runs he’ll lose most of his 2016 supporters to whoever the new Progressive darling ends up being.
This prediction also contains a lot of small predictions, but essentially I misjudged how the race would unfold. Today’s polling averages from fivethirtyeight.com show Joe Biden at 26.6%, Bernie Sanders at 18.1%, and Elizabeth Warren at 15.4%, with the next tier all polling in single digits. Democrats all seem to be lamenting their choices, but they aren’t really looking at anyone who hasn’t been in the national spotlight for the past few decades; the three poll leaders are a 78 year-old gaffe-prone former-VP, a 79 year-old socialist from Vermont, and a 71 year-old liberal Senator from Massachusetts.
SpaceX will successfully launch a crewed flight to the space station this year, but Boeing will further delay their first crewed mission until 2020.
Both SpaceX and Boeing had setbacks in their crewed launch programs this year, and now both will be lucky if they can get astronauts to the space station in 2020. As an act of charity I’m going to give myself half credit for predicting that Boeing would fail, particularly since the aerospace giant continues to be even further behind than SpaceX.
With the rollout of 5G cellular service already beginning, Google will make a move towards acquiring an existing wireless company or deploying its own 5G network.
There is no indication whatsoever that Google has any interest in its own 5G network. I should probably deduct a point for being not just wrong, but utterly and completely wrong, but let’s just move on.
Avengers: Endgame will outperform Star Wars: Episode IX at the box office.
I FINALLY GOT ONE RIGHT! Avengers:Endgame ranks #1 in the all-time worldwide box office with $2.8 billion and #2 in the all-time domestic box office with $858 million. Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker is currently at $945 million worldwide and $461 million domestic, meaning it won’t come close to the latest Marvel movie’s numbers.
After Virgin Galactic finally reached space in December, their flight test program will continue through 2019, but they won’t fly any paying customers. They will, however, do a test flight with Richard Branson on board during 2019.
I’m actually a little bit shocked that Richard Branson hasn’t taken a flight in his new spaceship yet – they’ve done a bunch of test flights and even sent up a test passenger in February, but so far the daredevil CEO hasn’t flown. I’m giving myself a half-point as charity for predicting that they wouldn’t fly any paying customers in 2019.
Despite predictions of bidding wars, during NFL free agency Le’veon Bell won’t be offered anything that comes close to the reported $70 million that he turned down from the Steelers… he’ll be the NFL’s third-highest paid running back.
I GOT ANOTHER ONE! Bell sat out a year, arguing he wasn’t being offered enough by the Steelers, and ended up signing a four-year, $52.5 million contract. He barely moved ahead of David Johnson in terms of average salary, but ended up still being the third highest paid running back once Ezekiel Elliott signed an extension in Dallas.
Tesla will introduce a major refresh of its Model S and Model X vehicles, including a new battery pack technology.
Reports indicate that a cosmetic refresh is imminent and that new battery technology will also be introduced in 2020, but Tesla spent 2019 focused on ramping up and optimizing Model-3 production and pushed changes to its existing lineup to the backburner.
Boeing will officially announce its new 797 plane this year.
Obviously the grounding of Boeing’s 737-MAX caused all other efforts in the company to grind to a halt, and it is now likely that the company is completely re-thinking its product roadmap.
While US politics will continue to be a dispiriting example of how not to run a country, at least one major piece of legislation will pass this year.
Surprisingly, Trump’s update to NAFTA passed the House by a vote of 385-41, but like hundreds of other bills that have made it through the House, it is stalled in the Senate. Mitch McConnell has been laser-focused on putting conservative judges on the bench and as a result hasn’t spent as much time on legislation, so like most of the other predictions for this year, I’m going to call this one incorrect.
PG&E will be split up and in many cases turn into municipal utilities.
So far PG&E seems to be weathering its troubles by increasing rates and doing a surprisingly adept job of navigating bankruptcy court. The utility is still in a precarious position, but it looks like they could emerge from their current troubles intact.
The final tally for 2019: 3 out of 15 (20%), making this the third-most dismal showing behind only 2014 (12%) and 2013 (11%). And bear in mind, that score is with two charity half-points I awarded myself for mostly-incorrect predictions. Oy. I’ll make an effort to ensure that the upcoming predictions for 2020 are better.
Since 2009 I’ve started each year by making predictions for the new year, and since 2009 I’ve mostly gotten those predictions wrong. Despite being horrible at it, this annual effort at forecasting the future is an amusing exercise, so continuing the inglorious tradition, here’s a bunch of guesses about what’s (probably not) going to happen in 2019:
- Tiger Woods will return to the world golf #1 ranking at some point in 2019. Assuming he can stay healthy this year, his season-ending victory at the Tour Championship in 2018 should be an omen of good things to come. The golf world seems very ready to have its superstar winning tournaments again.
- Democrats will not seriously pursue impeachment of Donald Trump in 2019. I may be either giving Democrats too much credit, underestimating what Robert Mueller’s investigation will uncover, or be too optimistic about Trump not doing anything so crazy that impeachment becomes inevitable, but I think the Democratic leadership wants to avoid this fight unless forced into it. Absent facts emerging that demand impeachment, Pelosi & Schumer seem to understand that they need to be seen as using their power responsibly, and also that pursuing impeachment without bipartisan agreement on wrongdoing would set a dangerous precedent in which future Congresses would no longer view impeachment as a last resort but instead as a way to eliminate an opposition President.
- After Disney’s $71.3 billion acquisition of Fox Studios, 2019 will see another massive media merger. It may be something like Sony merging with Netflix, Warner Brothers buying the Fox Network, Google gaining a broadcast or studio presence, or something else entirely, but it will be comparable in magnitude to the Disney-Fox deal. With its acquisitions of Pixar in 2006, Marvel in 2009, Lucasfilm in 2012, and now Fox Studios (which included a large stake in Hulu), Disney is dominating the entertainment market, and the other major players will be looking for ways to compete.
- After making almost $60 billion in profits in 2018, Apple will see its lowest yearly profits since it made $40 billion in 2014. Steve Jobs introduced the iPod, iPhone and iPad, but since his death Apple hasn’t created any new products that have had a major impact in the market, and with competitors now offering comparable devices at cheaper prices, 2019 will be the year that Apple’s failure to innovate without Steve Jobs finally starts to catch up to it.
- Despite massive privacy violations Facebook won’t make any significant changes this year and will begin to see its active user base erode. By the end of the year the number of people “quitting Facebook” will be a noticeable minority, and other companies will be either planning or promoting legitimate Facebook alternatives in an effort to snatch up the Facebook deserters.
- With dozens of Democratic candidates testing the waters of a Presidential run, by the end of the year the leading candidates will be Elizabeth Warren, a new face that the party’s Progressive wing coalesces around (probably someone like Kamala Harris), and someone with executive experience (a governor, military leader, or former executive branch leader) who no one is paying any attention to right now. If Bernie Sanders runs he’ll lose most of his 2016 supporters to whoever the new Progressive darling ends up being.
- SpaceX will successfully launch a crewed flight to the space station this year, but Boeing will further delay their first crewed mission until 2020.
- With the rollout of 5G cellular service already beginning, Google will make a move towards acquiring an existing wireless company or deploying its own 5G network. From 2010 until 2016 Google was actually building out a fiber network to provide internet access directly to homes and business, and with that effort having stalled it seems possible that they have instead decided that 5G wireless networking is a cheaper and better way to pursue the company’s goals of providing internet directly to consumers.
- Avengers: Endgame will outperform Star Wars: Episode IX at the box office. This may not be a particularly risky prediction given that Star Wars: The Last Jedi took in $620 million vs $678 million for Avengers: Infinity War, so I’ll up the ante by saying that the next Avengers movie will earn at least $100 million more than the next Star Wars film.
- After Virgin Galactic finally reached space in December, their flight test program will continue through 2019, but they won’t fly any paying customers. They will, however, do a test flight with Richard Branson on board during 2019 – the Virgin CEO set ballooning world records in the 1980s and 1990s, so hopping on a test flight to space is right up his alley.
- Despite predictions of bidding wars, during NFL free agency Le’veon Bell won’t be offered anything that comes close to the reported $70 million that he turned down from the Steelers. While he’s arguing that he should be paid $17 million per year, at best he’ll be the NFL’s third-highest paid running back behind Todd Gurley ($14.375 million per year) and David Johnson ($13 million per year). Owners won’t want to reward a player who sat out a season, while general managers won’t want to devote a large chunk of their salary cap to a guy who seems to have an inflated ego and who was immediately replaced by someone who put up better numbers.
- Tesla will introduce a major refresh of its Model S and Model X vehicles, including a new battery pack technology. The specs they have been promoting for their upcoming semi truck indicate that they’ve got some exciting new battery technologies ready, but at a minimum they will want to get all of their vehicles using the 2170 battery cells that they produce at their Gigafactory rather than the 18650 cells they currently purchase from battery manufacturers.
- Boeing will officially announce its new 797 plane this year, touting a signature oval-shaped, composite fuselage meant to maximize passenger space while limiting aerodynamic drag. There have been conflicting reports about the construction materials and shape of the new plane’s fuselage, but I think an oval, carbon-fiber fuselage will be favored as a baby step towards the much more efficient blended wing body designs that will (hopefully) become the norm in future aircraft.
- While US politics will continue to be a dispiriting example of how not to run a country, at least one major piece of legislation will pass this year since both Trump and the Democrats will be eager to show that they are capable of getting things done. Priorities for Democrats seem to be some sort of voting rights act, fixes for Obamacare, and changes to the immigration system. Trump would be happy with either a wall or something that he can call a trade deal. Both sides would probably settle for an infrastructure package. Thus, I suspect that if investigations and scandals don’t swallow the entire agenda that a bargain will be cut to give each side a “win” that they can tout to their supporters ahead of the 2020 elections.
- PG&E, now teetering on the edge of bankruptcy due to liability from the recent deadly wildfires, will be split up and in many cases turn into municipal utilities. The process will be a painful one – it makes sense for a big city to purchase electrical poles and power plants, but would be too costly for a rural area to purchase and maintain – so the story of PG&E’s demise will slowly escalate into a major crisis for the state of California during the coming year.
That does it for 2019. The comments link is available for anyone who wants to add their own predictions, otherwise check back in one year to see if I could beat 2018’s rate of 25% correct predictions. Note that the Browns have been intentionally excluded from this year’s predictions in order to avoid jinxing what everyone is cautiously hoping will be a promising season.
It’s been a while since there was a journal update, but the recap of my predictions for 2018 warrants a return from my hiatus. Spoiler alert: I didn’t get many right. Here’s the recap:
Here are the election predictions for 2018:
Republicans will barely lose the House, with Democrats holding a post-election advantage of between 1-10 seats.
Pending the outcome of the disputed race in North Carolina, Democrats will have gained either 41 or 42 seats and currently hold a 235-199 advantage, far more than the 1-10 seat advantage I predicted. I thought Democrats would do well, but they ended up with one of the best performances by any party since Watergate.
Republicans will end the year with either 49 or 50 Senate seats.
While Democrats got a similar percentage of votes for Senate races as they did for House races (53 million total votes vs 35 million for Republicans), those votes were overwhelmingly in large states like California and New York, and Republicans actually gained two seats overall, giving them a 53-47 edge. Missouri and Florida are two states that I thought would stay blue, and I expected Democrats to make at least one surprise pickup, but Republicans did well in states that voted for Trump.
Efforts to eliminate gerrymandering will get a boost, with ballot measures passing in at least five states. Additionally, the Supreme Court ruling in Gill vs. Whitford will accept the argument that overly-partisan districts are unconstitutional, leading to lawsuits in several states against the current maps.
I’m giving myself half credit for this one. Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Colorado and Utah all passed measures to limit or eliminate gerrymandering, and hopefully more states will follow in coming years as it is ridiculous how districts are currently drawn in many places. Meanwhile the Supreme Court essentially punted on their gerrymandering case, voting 9-0 to send the case back to the lower courts because the defendants had not demonstrated “concrete and particularized injuries”. The case was brought against the state of Wisconsin, where Republicans ended up with 63 out of the 99 State Assembly seats despite Democrats winning 53% of the vote.
After twelve years in development and many setbacks, Virgin Galactic will finally get their new ship into space.
Scaled Composites launched a similar design out of the Mojave airport in 2004, capturing the $10 million X-Prize as the first private vehicle to reach space, and on the morning of December 13 they returned with the first spaceship built to carry average citizens into space. We live in exciting times.
Avengers: Infinity War will become the highest-grossing Marvel movie.
While the new Avengers movie earned $687 million at the domestic box office to surpass the $623 million earnings of the original Avengers movie, Black Panther beat it to the punch, taking in $700 million after its February launch to claim the mantle as Marvel’s highest-grossing film.
The Browns will draft a quarterback at #1 and trade back from the #4 pick.
John Dorsey chose not to trade his picks, but by all indications he apparently nailed the 2018 draft, taking likely Rookie of the Year Baker Mayfield at #1, and Pro Bowler Denzel Ward at #4. I’m a big fan of the math behind trading back from high picks, but I’m a bigger fan of the Browns sucking less and thus I’m happy to have gotten this prediction wrong.
Tesla will not hit its goal of producing 5,000 Model 3 vehicles per week by the end of Q2, and will finish the year with total Model 3 deliveries between 170,000-190,000.
Tesla pulled out all of the stops and barely hit the 5,000 Model 3 per week goal in Q2, but they have been averaging just under 5,000 vehicles per week since then and came out lower than I expected for the year with 145,846 Model 3 deliveries.
Jeff Bezos will expand his presence in the news world.
Since buying the Washington Post in 2013 Bezos has helped grow the paper’s profits, staff and subscribers. Additionally the software created to manage the content and web site for the Post is being used by an increasing number of newspapers around the world, helping them refocus on journalism and letting someone else handle the technical side of running a newspaper in the internet age. Despite these successes, Bezos has surprisingly not made any further ventures into the news world, so this prediction, like most of the others, is incorrect.
The new Han Solo Star Wars movie will significantly underperform recent Star Wars films, earning between $375-425 million
I got the “underperform” part right, but vastly underestimated how little interest audiences would have for this film. The final box office for “Solo” was just $214 million, far less than the $532 million box office of its predecessor Rogue One.
Boeing will not complete its first 777X airplane in 2018 as scheduled.
While the 787 faced years of delays that cost Boeing billions of dollars, the 777X completed final assembly on time and by all reports should be flying on schedule in early 2019, ready for first delivery in 2020.
Despite reportedly spending $1 billion on producing television shows in 2018, Apple will still end 2018 without any popular programs.
While Apple reportedly has almost thirty shows in development, they have so far only released two: Planet of the Apps, which Mashable charitably called a “successful disaster“, and Carpool Karaoke, which got renewed for a second season despite “lacking critical and audience acclaim“. I miss Steve Jobs.
The California High Speed Rail will start to be rebranded as a route that connects the job-rich coastal cities with the affordable housing of the Central Valley.
I actually got this one right! After years of touting connectivity between San Francisco and Los Angeles as its primary benefit, the first point in the 2018 High Speed Rail Business Plan is “Connecting the Central Valley to the Bay Area and the Los Angeles economic megaregions through highspeed rail will give businesses around the state new opportunities to choose locations based on labor force availability and to tighten linkages with businesses and field offices.” I’ve noted previously how disappointed I am in the management of this project, but still firmly believe that having a high speed rail line connecting California’s major cities will ultimately be a huge win for the state.
The Simpsons will finally come to an end after 30 seasons, announcing that the 2018-2019 season will be its last.
As of 6-January there is no confirmation whether The Simpsons will be back for Season 31 or not, so I’m making this prediction my first-ever “neither right nor wrong” prognostication. I think it’s odd that if TV’s longest-running scripted series was going to end that there wouldn’t be an announcement made as soon as possible in order to drive up final season ratings, but thus far all has been quiet on the subject of the animated family from Springfield.
The Bitcoin bubble will finally burst. The cryptocurrency is down nearly fifty percent from its high of $20,000, but the bubble will finally burst for good sometime this year, and prices will be well under $1,000 by the time 2018 comes to a close.
The price continued to drop throughout the year, but closed just under $4000, and not “well under $1000” as I predicted it would. I’m still dumbfounded that it is worth as much as it is – do even ten percent of the people investing in Bitcoin even know what a Bitcoin actually is?
Lebron James will not leave the Cavs.
He went away again, but it was nice to see Cavs fans giving him a standing ovation in his first game back in Cleveland after joining the Lakers. As a former Clevelander I’m hardly in a position to criticize anyone for leaving, and Lebron did the impossible by taking the Cavs to four straight NBA Finals and winning Cleveland’s first professional sports championship since 1964, so kudos to him, and best of luck with the new team.
Final score: 3.5 out of 14 (25%), my third-worst showing in ten years behind only 2014 (12%) and 2013 (11%). Predictions for 2019 should follow soon.
Starting in 2009 I began making predictions about the coming year. Now in its tenth year, the annual predictions for 2018 are ready to go:
- First, some obligatory election predictions:
- Republicans will barely lose the House, with Democrats holding a post-election advantage of between 1-10 seats; currently the House is split 241-194 Republican/Democrat. All signs point to a big year for Democrats, but current districts are drawn such that Republicans have a built-in advantage that will limit gains by Democrats.
- Republicans will end the year with either 49 or 50 Senate seats. While it looks like a good year for Democrats, they are defending 26 seats while Republicans only have to defend eight, and only seven of the 34 races are currently expected to be competitive. Democrats have decent odds to pick up seats in Nevada and Arizona, but they must also play defense in tough states like Indiana, Missouri, West Virginia, North Dakota and Montana, and I would expect that at least one of those could end up flipping to Republicans.
- Efforts to eliminate gerrymandering will get a boost, with ballot measures passing in at least five states. Additionally, the Supreme Court ruling in Gill vs. Whitford will accept the argument that overly-partisan districts are unconstitutional, leading to lawsuits in several states against the current maps.
- After twelve years in development and many setbacks, Virgin Galactic will finally get their new ship into space. It’s hard to believe that it’s been fourteen years since Spaceship One became the first manned private vehicle to reach space.
- Avengers: Infinity War will become the highest-grossing Marvel movie. The first Avengers movie currently holds that title with a $623 million box office haul, so I’ll peg the new movie’s box office take at $650-700 million.
- The Browns will draft a quarterback at #1 and trade back from the #4 pick. I’m confident in the prediction that a quarterback will be the pick at #1, but less so about the trade back – the new general manager may not think like his Moneyball predecessors who recognized that high picks tend to be over-valued. That said, there are a lot of good quarterbacks in this draft, thus there will be a lot of teams scrambling to get their guy before he’s gone, so I think the Browns will pick their man at #1 and will then be unable to ignore the bidding war from QB-needy teams wanting the fourth pick.
- Tesla will not hit its goal of producing 5,000 Model 3 vehicles per week by the end of Q2, and will finish the year with total Model 3 deliveries between 170,000-190,000.
- Jeff Bezos, who purchased the Washington Post for $250 million in 2013, will expand his presence in the news world. Bezos has turned the Post profitable, and more importantly has turned the software platform that the newspaper runs on into a service used by many other major news organizations around the world. My impression is that he is trying to show traditional journalism companies how to be financially viable in the digital world, and as such I expect that he will create some sort of Amazon news portal, will purchase additional news organizations, or will otherwise launch some major effort to further that goal.
- The new Han Solo Star Wars movie will significantly underperform the other Star Wars films, a result of audience fatigue and a film that has had a troubled production. The film is going to be released just six months after The Last Jedi, and just one year after the original directors were fired, so I’m going to guess its box office will be between $375-425 million, far less than the $530 million earned by Rogue One.
- Boeing will not complete its first 777X airplane in 2018 as scheduled. After the new 737-MAX airplane was actually delivered sooner than Boeing anticipated it is tempting to believe that the 777X will also be delivered on time or early, but the changes in the 777 are more ambitious, including a folding wingtip, and it seems very likely that Boeing will find it harder to put together than anticipated.
- Despite reportedly spending $1 billion on producing television shows in 2018, Apple will still end 2018 without any popular programs. Unlike Netflix or Amazon, which make their content available on all devices, Apple’s strategy seems tied to using content as a way to sell the overpriced $180 Apple streaming TV device, so unless Apple manages to strike gold and create the next Game of Thrones, it seems highly unlikely that enough people are going to see Apple’s shows to make them successful.
- While I don’t think the California High Speed Rail project will be significantly changed so long as Jerry Brown is in office, given the fact that the first and easiest section of the route is already 30-50% over budget, lawmakers and candidates for governor will rebrand the project, and instead of describing it as a route between LA and San Francisco, it will start to be described as a route that connects the job-rich coastal cities with the affordable housing of the Central Valley. This strategy will allow them to de-emphasize cost overruns and delays in building the statewide system, giving them the ability to declare that “success” means opening an operational segment from Fresno to San Jose. In fairness that strategy actually does make some sense given the higher unemployment in the valley and crazy housing prices on the coast, but I am still hugely dismayed at how badly California is screwing up such an important project.
- The Simpsons will finally come to an end after 30 seasons, announcing that the 2018-2019 season will be its last. Thirty seems like a nice round number to go out on, even if the cast and creators might be willing to go on for another decade or two. If this prediction does come true, it will be the first time since I was in the eighth grade that I’ll live in a world without new Simpsons episodes.
- The Bitcoin bubble will finally burst. The cryptocurrency is down nearly fifty percent from its high of $20,000, but the bubble will finally burst for good sometime this year, and prices will be well under $1,000 by the time 2018 comes to a close. A “currency” that is difficult to actually use in making purchases, and that requires massive amounts of energy to sustain, is not something that lends itself well to longevity.
- Finally, despite constant rumors to the contrary, Lebron James will not leave the Cavs. This prediction is based on two pieces of evidence: one, when he returned to the Cavs he said he was going to finish his career in Cleveland, and as long as the Cavs give him the opportunity to win more championships I think he’ll stick to that, and two, I desperately want it to be correct.
And there they are. As I do every year, looking over the list now I wonder how any of them could possibly end up being incorrect, and I look forward to revisiting this list a year from now and wondering how I could possibly have believed that any of them would end up coming to pass. If anyone wants to add predictions of their own, or if you would like to (rightfully) mock the predictions I’ve made, the comments section is available as always.
In what has become an annual tradition, at the beginning of 2017 I made fifteen predictions about the coming year. In what has also become an annual tradition, I was horribly wrong about most of them. Scorecards from past years prove without a doubt that I do not have the powers of Nostradamus, and the following tally of 2017’s glorious ineptitude merely reinforces that fact. I remain undaunted, however, and will be back with predictions for 2018 in an upcoming journal entry.
Without further ado, here’s the recap of 2017:
While Tesla says it will begin volume production of the Model-3 in the second half of 2017, they will miss that goal slightly, delivering only between 4-8,000 vehicles by the end of the year.
WRONG Tesla actually did far worse than even I expected, delivering just 1,550 Model-3 vehicles in 2017. As late as August 2017 Tesla was estimating deliveries of around 25,000 vehicles, so this was a pretty huge miss for them, although demand for the vehicle seems to be robust so there is an enormous amount of potential revenue awaiting them if they can get volumes up.
The Browns will trade at least one of their two first round draft picks.
CORRECT The Browns traded their #12 pick to the Texans for the #25 pick and what became the #4 pick in this year’s draft. For any other team that would be an amazing haul, but since it’s the Browns, the player the Texans took at #12 – Deshaun Watson – looks to have all the makings of the league’s next great QB. Luckily the 2018 NFL Draft is less than three months away.
By the end of the year there will be rumblings in tech publications and among shareholders calling for Tim Cook’s ouster as Apple CEO.
WRONG I was WAY off in my predictions about the stock market – I assumed it was due for a correction, but instead stocks rose over 30%, and in that environment very few CEOs are going to be losing their jobs, much less the head of the world’s most valuable company. For the record, I think Apple has lost its way and needs a leader who can provide a sensible vision, and while Tim Cook may be great at supply chains and logistics, it doesn’t inspire confidence that every year he proclaims his newest iPhone to be “magical” because it is 0.001 mm thinner and has a camera with an extra few pixels.
Donald Trump’s favorability ratings will fall from the current 45% to between 27-32% by the end of the year, and there will be talk of impeachment from both sides of the aisle.
WRONG While his 38% approval rating at the end of the year is a record low for a President in his first year, I was very wrong about how the Republican Party, whose members in many cases skipped or only reluctantly attended their own nominating convention in the summer of 2016, and Fox News, a network that once feuded with candidate Trump to the point that he didn’t attend one of their sponsored debates, would fall in line behind a President Trump.
The stock market will end the year down about ten percent, finishing between 16,500 and 17,500.
WRONG The market closed 2017 at 24,719, up 25.1%. This was a big miss on my part, but the correction I expected in 2017 may be now happening a few months later – as I write this entry the stock market has dropped 1,800 points in two days.
Hidden Figures (which I haven’t seen) will win the Best Picture Oscar.
WRONG But in my defense, even the Oscar ceremony didn’t get the Best Picture Oscar right.
SpaceX will not launch a human spaceflight mission, nor will it launch its new Falcon Heavy rocket, but it will re-fly one of its previously-flown rockets, and will complete at least twenty total missions without another accident.
CORRECT I’m going to count this prediction as a win, despite the fact that they had 18 launches instead of 20. Their previous best year was 2016 when the had eight successful missions, so they more than doubled their previous record, they became the first company to re-fly a rocket, and I correctly predicted the delay in both the Falcon Heavy and manned missions. That puts me at a miserable two out of seven correct predictions, and it’s not going to get much better…
At least one of the following companies will be purchased by the year’s end: Twitter, Spotify, or Lyft.
WRONG I didn’t foresee Uber repeatedly shooting itself in the foot and leaving Lyft looking stellar by comparison, or Apple Music failing to do anything to meaningfully distinguish itself from Spotify, and I continue to be mystified by Twitter’s business model. In any case, this prediction was another one that was spectacularly wrong.
The next Star Wars movie will significantly under-perform the domestic box office take of $936 million earned by The Force Awakens; I’ll predict its box office ends up in the $500-600 million range.
WRONG As of February 4, The Force Awakens has a domestic box office total of $614 million; it’s tempting to count this prediction as correct since I’m so close, but close is relative – for all but a handful of very rich people, $14 million isn’t really a number that should just be shrugged off, so this one needs to go down as wrong despite a really, really strong argument for partial credit.
Obamacare will not be repealed or replaced in any meaningful way.
CORRECT I was surprised that Republicans got to the point where only John McCain’s thumb saved Obamacare from significant changes, but in the end their years of promises to “repeal and replace” hit the hard reality that “replace” is an easy thing to say and a very difficult thing to do.
By the end of the year ESPN & the Discovery network will offer streaming services, while one or both of Netflix and Amazon will find a way to offer local channels.
WRONG I’m amazed at how badly content providers are doing in adjusting to the new reality that people are moving away from traditional cable and towards streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. While ESPN has (finally) announced a streaming service, details are scant and it won’t launch until later this year (at the soonest), while most other networks seem to have their heads in the sand. Meanwhile, although YouTube and DirecTV stream local channels, I was wrong about the interest by other services in providing a full-fledged replacement for cable TV.
The coming actions that Trump and the Republican Congress will take against LGBT rights, abortion rights, the environment, and other issues will create a huge amount of anger on the Left that will manifest itself in similar ways to what was seen with the Tea Party.
CORRECT While it doesn’t yet appear that Democrats are going to quite the extremes that the Tea Party did (no major Democrats seem to be in danger of losing their seats in primaries), there was sufficient anger to create a two day government shutdown, a huge backlash against any sign of Senators supporting Trump nominees, and a massive amount of anger directed towards Washington. While this prediction may seem obvious in retrospect, I get a lot of “obvious” predictions wrong, and am thus still going to count this one as correct.
The Russian election hacking story will just be the beginning of ongoing cyberattacks that will continue in 2017 in an effort to undermine American credibility both domestically and internationally.
WRONG While Russia appears to be gearing up to try and influence the 2018 elections, the fact that investigations into Russian hacking have become politicized has made it very difficult to determine if the attacks are continuing or not; in any case, they have not been the major story that I expected they would be. I’m biased based on my field of work, but in my mind cyberattacks and attempts by a foreign power to divide Americans by manipulating social media are threats that should be taken much, much more seriously, and it should be a topmost priority of the NSA and similar organizations to identify and shut down foreign bots and fake accounts as quickly as possible.
Google will announce an operating system to compete with Windows & OSX
WRONG While Google apparently has an operating system in testing, they barely acknowledge it exists and most definitely didn’t announce it as a Windows competitor in 2017. In all honesty, I didn’t really think this prediction was going to come true when I wrote it, but I’d been working on the “predictions” journal entry for a few days and just couldn’t come up with anything better.
The next season of Game of Thrones is going to kill off Cersei Lannister and Littlefinger.
(Spoiler alert) HALF CREDIT Game of Thrones is a really interesting show, with excellent characters and compelling storylines, but now that the show has pushed beyond the books it’s clear that the twisted mind of George R. R. Martin was not guiding the demise of one of his best characters – Lord Baelish deserved a more devious ending than what he got.
Final score: 4.5 out of 15 (30%), making this only my sixth worst showing (out of nine years). WOO HOO! Predictions for 2018 will be online in the coming days.
Shockingly, 2017 is now the ninth year in a row that I’ve made a futile attempt at predicting the future. With any luck, at least one of the following will actually come to pass:
- While Tesla says it will begin volume production of the Model-3 in the second half of 2017, they will miss that goal slightly, delivering only between 4-8,000 vehicles by the end of the year. Even with that miss, the Model-3 is still going to be a game-changer. The industry underestimates how many advantages Tesla has built for itself – Tesla is several years ahead of anyone else when it comes to electric drivetrain technology, they have a massive, operational battery factory, a worldwide fast-charging network, and their advanced manufacturing experience now exceeds that of other auto manufacturers. If Model-3 is successful, suddenly Tesla will have all of those advantages AND a massive revenue stream that will be limited only by how fast they can grow.
- The Browns will trade at least one of their two first round draft picks. Analytics says that high draft picks are overvalued and that there is no sure thing in the draft, so if the Browns can turn one pick into many then they will run the numbers and take the deal.
- By the end of the year there will be rumblings in tech publications and among shareholders calling for Tim Cook’s ouster as Apple CEO. I don’t think anyone expected Apple to continue its streak of creating the next big thing once Steve Jobs died, but even the most ardent Apple fanboys are disappointed with the latest laptops, the company hasn’t updated their non-laptop Mac lineup in over three years, the iWatch continues to be a disappointment, and the main innovation that Apple has touted for the last three generations of iPhones and iPads has been “it’s slightly thinner than the last one”.
- Donald Trump’s favorability ratings will fall from the current 45% to between 27-32% by the end of the year, and there will be talk of impeachment from both sides of the aisle. I remain hopeful that I’m wrong about him, but the majority of his cabinet picks thus far seem like ideologues and loyalists, he has backtracked on some campaign promises before even being sworn-in, and anyone hoping he would change his behavior can read his Twitter feed to see that isn’t the case. Republicans don’t have any particular loyalty to him, Democrats already hate him, there are numerous potential scandals brewing, and it would be surprising if he delivers on any of his grandiose campaign promises, so I suspect he may be around for less than the four year term he was elected to.
- The stock market will end the year down about ten percent, finishing between 16,500 and 17,500. I’m obviously pessimistic about Trump and the ability of Republicans to steward the economy, but even without that pessimism, after several years of growth the market is overdue for a correction.
- Hidden Figures (which I haven’t seen) will win the Best Picture Oscar. Coming out of the Golden Globes La La Land has all of the buzz, but I think the combination of being a well-received movie, as well as Hollywood’s desire to send a message of support to minorities and women, will make Hidden Figures an unstoppable force by the time the awards air.
- SpaceX will not launch a human spaceflight mission, nor will it launch its new Falcon Heavy rocket, but it will re-fly one of its previously-flown rockets, and will complete at least twenty total missions without another accident. The Falcon Heavy was originally supposed to fly in 2013, and their manned program seems to be at least two years behind schedule, while its two recent launch explosions have also built a backlog of satellite launches that SpaceX needs to address. However, even with those issues they still offer the most promise, innovation, and excitement of any company in America; the missed deadlines can be partially excused by an ambitious timeline that is created without any margin for error in a business where occasional failures are an unavoidable reality.
- At least one of the following companies will be purchased by the year’s end: Twitter, Spotify, or Lyft. None of those three companies have clear paths to greater market share, but a Twitter acquisition offers instant social media prominence, a Spotify purchase makes the purchaser an instant media powerhouse, and Lyft is getting clobbered by Uber but would make any company that buys it the second-strongest player in the future ride-sharing economy.
- The next Star Wars movie will significantly under-perform the domestic box office take of $936 million earned by The Force Awakens; I’ll predict its box office ends up in the $500-600 million range. The Force Awakens was just an OK movie that benefited from being the sequel everyone had been waiting for since Return of the Jedi. Rogue One was a movie with a far better script, a more interesting story, and more of a Star Wars “feel”, but its box office is currently just over half of its predecessor at $512 million. The excitement level for new Star Wars films has clearly dropped, and will likely only diminish further as nostalgia for the original films wanes.
- Obamacare will not be repealed or replaced in any meaningful way. With the reality that repeal will have a lot of negative consequences, that some Republican lawmakers are expressing concerns about constituents losing insurance, and that replacement with “something better” is easy to use as rhetoric but near-impossible to implement as legislation, Republicans will instead end up stalling by passing some minor tweaks, such as eliminating some of the mandates for businesses. Since a failure to repeal the law would obviously be a high-profile defeat, I suspect they may double-down on something like defunding planned parenthood as a way to save face among the base.
- 2017 will be a turning point in the switch from cable companies to internet streaming services. HBO Now and CBS All Access already deliver services traditionally offered by cable companies without requiring a cable subscription, and by the end of the year I believe a large number of similar offerings will become available, including ESPN & the Discovery network. Additionally, one or both of Netflix and Amazon will find a way to offer local channels, thus providing an all-in-one service to completely replace traditional cable providers.
- I’m not quite sure how to quantify this prediction into something that can be judged true or false in a year’s time, but just as the Tea Party was often driven by anger that frequently turned towards Republicans who were deemed to be insufficiently conservative, I think that the coming actions that Trump and the Republican Congress will take against LGBT rights, abortion rights, the environment, and other issues will create a huge amount of anger on the Left that will manifest itself in similar ways to what was seen with the Tea Party. Given that reality, I worry that Democrats who show any inclination to compromise or adhere to traditional norms of governing will be targeted by their constituents, and while it won’t be fully manifested at the end of the year, tactics like government shutdowns and blanket filibusters will eventually no longer be tools unique to the Republicans as the far Left demands action at any cost.
- The Russian election hacking story will just be the beginning of ongoing cyberattacks that will continue in 2017 in an effort to undermine American credibility both domestically and internationally. Russia and other countries benefit from a diminished United States, and as long as these sorts of attacks are effective there doesn’t seem to be any reason they would stop. Like the election releases, released data will include embarrassing communications or incriminating documents, but will not include anything that compromises national security and would thus justify a military response.
- Google will announce an operating system to compete with Windows & OSX. There have been rumors about a Google OS for a while, but now that Google is selling its own phones and other products it makes sense for them to further expand their software ecosystem.
- The next season of Game of Thrones is going to kill off Cersei Lannister and Littlefinger. The show is totally unpredictable, so the odds of me correctly guessing anything about it are probably nil, but given the theme of Fire & Ice, Daenerys will almost certainly end up in charge of the South, and the Starks are likely to end up in charge of the North, so it’s tough to see the show not eliminating the obstacles to that happening before embarking on its final season in 2018.
There they are, everything from stock market analysis to predictions about the orange President to diminished expectations for the new Star Wars film. Given my track record, expect none of these things to actually come to pass, but as always it’s an interesting exercise, and the comments link is there for anyone who wants to join in the fun and make their own wrong predictions for the coming year.