Happy 2016 everyone! I thought I would open the year by making some predictions for the world of economic optimization.
Technology: Self-driving cars will continue making progress but will need a reality check. It will be a long time before they are perfect, or before most people will want them. This year though we may well see a demonstration that drives (no pun intended) home the benefits in a new way.
Small single-board computers like the Raspberry Pi and its many offshoots will be used in more and more circumstances as they continue to become more powerful. With their power and extremely low energy use, they absolutely could be used as business desktops in some cases, and some medium sized company somewhere will implement that.
3D Printing (basically, small scale manufacturing) will also continue to advance. That is the easy prediction. The harder, but more significant, prediction is whether they will be used increasingly for housing construction. My guess is that 2016 won't be the year for that, but we need to keep an eye on it.
Politics: The Democrats will win the White House (probably with Hillary), and make gains in the Senate (probably taking it). But more importantly, people will get increasingly fed up with the "choices" we are offered via the major parties. 2016 will not be the Year of the Third Party Candidate, but it may spring just enough dis-satisfaction with the establishments that 2020 may be that year.
Economy: Restaurants and stores will increasingly experiment with replacing cashiers with robots. Society will largly get used to it, though there will be resistance.
The risse in college tuition costs will slow or even reverse, due to competition from free/low cost online courses and the fact that a degree proves little. As peoples' budgets shrink, they will increasingly be unable to afford the insane costs of tuition. But that is OK, as there are ample opportunities for low cost education.
Working from home will continue to increase as a trend, as more jobs are intellectual and can technically be done from anywhere. It is in demand by employees and some employers are finding their working-from-home employees more productive.
Probably not much change.... Unfortunately I am not optimistic that several of the Pillars of Economic Optimization will see much change this year. I don't see much lasting change in consumerism, financial wisdom, government corruption, or even healthy living. Changing these things en masse will require the masses to critically re-evalute how they think and act (and vote). It is something we should work on, but 2016 is unlikely to be the year.
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