Adam’s 2012 Tech Predictions

Prediction is a messy game. Especially in a field that is often characterized by a state of punctuated equilibrium—long periods of stasis and then rapid disruptions. However, I will toss my hat into the ring.

The geopolitics of cybersecurity will take center stage. Certain visitors from the Land of the Pandas have been stealing a lot of our things. We’ve known they are stealing our things for a while. So what’s going to change? The increasingly aggressive nature of cyber-reconaissance and cyber-theft by geopolitical competitors is coming at a time of growing tension in the non-tech world. DOD’s concern over cyberwarfare is propelled by its larger anxiety over the anti-acccess/maritime denial challenge and a shift in the dynamics of the power game in the Pacific. Expect cyber to become more of a diplomatic and strategic issue, seen largely through the lens of Pacific geopolitics.

Mark Zuckerbeg will continue to build a user-populated total information awareness engine, and users will complain vigorously–but let him do it anyway. With every Facebook upgrade, the company moves closer towards the Platonic ideal of a complete database of one’s personal life. But no reasonable alternative exists–and users will complain without actually taking any steps to seriously deter the company from continuing to erode privacy. Expect more invasive platform changes.

A high-profile mobile device security breach will occur. Given the panoply of security problems with the introduction of networked mobile devices into the workplace, an truly embarrassing security breach may be one of the unavoidable growing pains. Within the federal or defense industry world such a breach may temporarily retard the growth of the mobile federal ecosystem.
Single-author blogs will continue their slide into the abyss. Unless you are a recognized figure in a certain community of practice or have a corporate sponsor (such as a magazine or think-tank), you are unlikely to generate much value out of your blog. Multiple-author blogs generate high page views and provide an interplay that keeps unique visitors coming back for more. The professionalization of blogging and the rise of sponsored content further hurts single-author blogs. Of course, there is a “long tail” effect that some can exploit.
Swarms will continue to grow as important as networks. The dominant metaphor for the information age is the network. But swarming will increasingly be enabled by technologies that allow one human to control masses of autonomous machines. As John Robb notes, this is true of both drones and botnets.

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