From the SCL Editor: Bring Me Your Predictions, Reflections and Resolutions

October 24, 2019

Who would make predictions now? If the Brexit saga in Parliament has taught us just one thing it is that working out what will happen next is futile. As the great screenplay writer William Goldman (of Butch Cassidy, The Sting and a Bridge Too Far fame) wrote in his cynical memoirs, Adventures in the Screen Trade ‘Nobody knows anything’. His context was whether or not you could tell that a film was going to make money, a lesson he learnt from being involved in the ill-fated Heaven’s Gate, which at the time was Hollywood’s biggest ever flop despite its star-studded line-up.  

That adage could also apply to our very own long-running Predictions feature. Professor Chris Marsden last year predicted “hard Brexit will happen”. At the time of writing, he may still be right but if he is it will probably be more by ill-luck than judgment. Talking of ill-luck, the recent withdrawal of age verification has rendered the first Neil Brown and Alex Bloor’s predictions marvellous video predictions utterly wrong: they thought, reasonably in my view, there would be a data breach related to it. To be fair, so far they are right that there have been no 4% of global turnover fines though BA and Marriott will take scant consolation from that. I was wrong on that one but the recent (over-hyped?) announcement of Google quantum supremacy means that I can claim that my prediction “quantum computing will be disturbingly close to changing everything” could be claimed as a moral victory at least.  

All of which shows that the prediction business, while fun, is hard and apt to make fools of us who try. So this year I would like to widen the call for contributions and make participation in end of year festivities a bit less daunting. I would still be delighted to receive predictions from the brave but also reflections on 2019 and resolutions for 2020 as well. What have you learnt from the past year? Did any piece of news, speech, event stand out for you and why? Is the GDPR panning out as it should? And what are you going to try and do in 2020 that you didn’t do this year? It could be something in practice or more personal. My own is to stop reading ‘below the line’ Brexit comments, though I hope that this particular failing will be cured by others.

Our December issue of Computers & Law will, fingers crossed, be with you just before the Xmas break so if this call seems a little premature then it is because the deadline for inclusion in that issue is 22nd November. If you cannot contribute before that deadline, but still have something to say, we will keep publishing contributions on the site over the Xmas and New Year period, so please keep them coming even if the deadline for being in print has passed. As with last year you can submit words, video, infographics or podcasts – all forms of media are encouraged which you can send to me at