Well, we are in the future once again. 2023.

Hard to believe how fast the times go. When I was watching Back to the Future 2 as a kid, the year 2015 was something way into the future. Now, it’s the distant past! Still can’t believe it.

What will 2023 bring? Unfortunately more of the same as in 2022. 2020 was a crucial year that set up a path, which we haven’t gotten off of. Many of the themes of dystopian movies have started to play themselves out.

Global pandemic. Internal strife and riots. Devastating war in Europe.

The past few years haven’t looked good. And the trend isn’t changing.

What was up in 2022?

At the beginning of 2022, I picked out 7 worrying trends to watch out for in that year. I was right on the money. Some of these turned out even worse than I expected.

With Covid, I expected a last hurray for the virus, and then things going back to normal. That’s what happened. While the virus is still here, it seems to have mutated into a less lethal form.

This is similar to what happened a hundred years ago to the so-called Spanish flu. It’s still with us a century later. However, it’s now just a mild endemic virus that most people easily survive through.

This is what will most likely happen with Covid. The virus will keep on mutating, and it will be with us for a long time. The good news is that it will only be a minor nuisance.

The other trends are still here and are keeping people worried. I don’t need to go into details on how dangerous climate change can be. NASA says that 2022 was the fifth warmest year on record. This will continue.

Solving this is of paramount importance. If the temperatures keep on increasing, and we start hitting climate tipping points, we are in for a whole lot of hurt.

Generally, on the world stage we are seeing more polarization. We witnessed it in Brazil, where Bolsonaro supporters stormed the governmental institutions in the capital. We see similar trends in other parts of the world as well.

In the US, the Republican Party is still worryingly on an authoritarian path. It has not disowned the Big Lie of Donald Trump about the election. Conspiracy theories float around not just the base, but many of its lawmakers.

On the other hand, wokeism is still here. It has even captured many venerable science press institutions such as Scientific American. The extremes have lots of power now.

One trend I saw that was going to be huge for 2022 was the fact that authoritarians were getting bolder on the world stage. The problem is, I underestimated how bad this was gonna get.

Putin unleashed probably the most devastating conventional war since World War 2. According to estimates, Russia is running out many of the weapons (including missiles) it had stockpiled. That’s how bad it has gotten.

All the stuff they stockpiled to fight all of NATO is now being spent in one country. Imagine the devastation Ukraine is going through.

What will happen in 2023?

Almost none of the problems I described in 2022 have gone away. In fact, many of them have gotten worse. The war in Ukraine will continue. I foresee an increasingly worsening situation in Russia. Putin has not only unleashed hell on Ukraine, but doomed his own country too.

The world’s economy is in the dumpster. It’s plagued by ever increasing inflation. I don’t recognize the prices anymore. Every time I go to the store and buy something, I am surprised at what I have to pay. It’s a huge rise from what I was used to a few years ago.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. We are in the early stages of an AI revolution. In the following next few years, artificial intelligence will transform large parts of how we live. There are positives and negatives coming from that.

In the last few weeks, I have been playing around with ChatGPT, and it’s amazing what it can do. You ask it a question, and it gives you a pretty good answer. Of course you have to watch out. For some things the responses are wrong. However, it does very good on technical matters.

And even bigger things are to come. The GPT-4 algorithm is slated to arrive in the early stages of this year. It will be even more powerful than all the algorithms we are seeing now.

We will need to start getting used to doing things a bit differently. Unfortunately, as the nature of society is changing so is the dark underworld.

Cybercrime has been plaguing us ever since the advent of the internet. However, as the technology advances, crime is getting more sophisticated as well. Experts estimate that cybercrime will cost the world around 8 billion dollars in 2023! That’s a staggering number.

This has a huge impact on you. Let me illustrate with one example. Stealing cars usually requires the physical presence of the robber. However, now with the cars being full of sophisticated electronics, the bad guys can simply hack them from afar. In fact, cyber-attacks on cars could be among the top five cybercrimes in 2023.

The 2020’s are proving a pivotal decade. Much is at stake. What we do now will have a huge impact on how the climate crisis turns out. Developments now will also be crucial for the shaping of the international world order, but also internally within countries.

While I don’t have a crystal ball and can’t predict events to a 100% certainty, I can guarantee that 2023 will be an interesting year. Let’s hope for the best.


An earlier version of this article was originally published on “Medium” here.
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