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1 December 2016

Crystal Ball 2016: Predicting the Unpredictable for 2017

Consumer Trends & Insight, News, Technology

As we entered 2016, the British media and polls were still backing the UK to remain part of the EU, Trump was little more than an unimaginable presidential outlier, and Leicester City looked to just be on a lucky streak as it topped the Premier League Table at Christmas. If 2016 has proven anything, it’s to expect the unexpected.

Every year, Edelman UK hosts the Crystal Ball Breakfast, in which a panel of notable individuals in fields ranging from culture and society. Now in its 9th year, on 1st December an impressive panel came together to try and predict what 2017 might hold.

The line up included: Ruby Wax OBE, Actress, Mental Health Campaigner, Lecturer & Author; June Sarpong MBE, Co-Founder of the WIE Network & Ldny.com, Present & Broadcaster; Bindi Karia, Startup Expert, Connector & Advisor; Anne Richards, Chief Executive, M&G Investments; and Joanna Tatchell, Director, Edelman. The discussion was moderated by Newsnight’s Kirsty Wark.

Kicking off the discussion, all panelists were in agreement that 2017 would see a rise in micro-activism as the world deals with the fallout from 2016 and people try to do something about it. The panel discussed the “post-truth” era we now live in and the disconnect that has been seen between governments and their electorates. When talking about how to combat this and return to solid facts, the panel focused on regulation, leadership’s responsibility, fact checking software, and the onus on people to be curious and seek out viewpoints other than their own.

Other predictions included:

  • The spread of use of Artificial Intelligence in data security, personal security, financial trade and healthcare.
  • The spread of the “amazing shrinking chocolate bar”: a rise in inflation in the UK as prices increase by around 4-6% in 2017.
  • The pro-business mood seen in America spreading across the Atlantic and to the UK.
  • Whilst cyber security has always been automated software, human intelligence will be introduced to help improve safety.
  • Brexit means Brexit, but we still won’t know exactly what that means.
  • 2017 will witness a series of interesting elections and referendums around the world.
  • A return to politics from Tony Blair, and a bright future for Ed Balls in both politics and entertainment.
  • If 2016 was the year of “post-truth”, 2017 will be the year of “no truth”
  • Widespread use of “intelligent things”; smart homes, smart cars, chatbots and more.
  • A rise in micro-activism, as people and businesses try to take control. This will mean more action taken locally and physically, re-injecting the human into a largely tech-centric world.
  • More awareness of mental health issues: just as it is cool to be busy, it will become cool to be mentally ill and no longer a taboo.
  • Virtual and Augmented Reality will go mainstream and be embraced by Hollywood.
  • The next American president will be a woman.

The panel also talked about the current state of British politics and political parties. Arguably, the biggest question of all is how we elect representatives to the British Parliament, and if this system should be reappraised to give a voice to the forgotten electorate. There was agreement that the centre-left need to find a new narrative for this demographic, and that there is a need to be more transparent about the extent to which the future of the youth’s is being mortgaged.

The event closed on a hopeful note, with the panel asking people to “just keep doing stuff” about causes they care about.

View highlights from the event below:

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