Predictions 2016: Lilian Edwards

December 18, 2015

I thought I’d celebrate the passing of the GDPR – an event I’ve almost certainly predicted once twice or many times, but never thought would actually happen – with a return to SCL predictions for 2016. The problem is that generally what happens is now happening far faster than legal, technological or even comedic ability can predict.

• Something will go badly wrong in the Internet of Things leading to increased concern about both security of access and liability for algorithms. It probably won’t be anything as dramatic as a hacked pacemaker or autonomous vehicle colliding with a baby while avoiding a dog ( the dream of philosophers everywhere) due to careful redundancy, but it might be a Barbie doll blowing up or a smart thermostat chilling pensioners, leading to lots of very bad PR and FUD.

• Celebrities in the US will mount a covert but prominent campaign to get an extra-legal right to be forgotten out of Google. ( Why should the EU have all the good stuff? and there is already evidence for this desire in a recent Berkeley analysis of unfounded image take down requests to Google web search.)

• Someone in blockchain smart contract circles will finally notice that the Oracle programme in the Matrix actually gave confusing, opaque and deliberately wrong answers.

• Algorithmic creation of student essays will reach state of the art (the database on TurnItOn would be the perfect training set) and the resulting cheap and accessible plagiarism will destroy all credibility in non-exam assessment entirely.

• Someone will combine all recent memes by sending an artificially intelligent British robot into space via a public-private Kickstarter helped by Richard Branson and the Satellite Catapult. It will also have a cat to keep it company.

• And most unlikely of all: My new Law, Policy and The Internet book will come out in September. Maybe!