Predictions 2017: Fake news persists, Silicon Valley gets spiritual as it kills jobs


As if 2016 weren’t volatile enough for the technology industry, the coming year is likely to be even more interesting, thanks to everything from a very unpredictable new U.S. president to a confluence of trends ranging from artificial intelligence to virtual reality to the continued rise of the cloud. This is the latest in a series of predictions by SiliconANGLE’s staff on what’s coming in 2017 in the enterprise, emerging technologies and tech at large.

Neither Internet giants nor governments will fix fake news

The glut of fabricated stories that may have helped swing the U.S. presidential election will continue, extending what has been called the post-truth era. There will be more talk of measures such as anti-troll algorithms and fact-checkers will be a growth industry. But there will be both paranoia by the alt-right and those who benefit from fake news, as well as valid criticism by free-speech advocates of whoever devises these filters, whether it’s giant corporate entities or government agencies. The result: Individual Internet users may finally realize they need to approach online content with the kind of skepticism and discernment that they once left to now-unemployed editors. We may even start taking digital citizenship seriously in a new social contract.

Silicon Valley will get more spiritual

Don’t laugh. The Valley will be inundated with new-age evangelists, promoting things such as spirituality and seeking higher truths using such things as ayahuasca, whose popularity in Hollywood has spread northward. The trend will grow from fitness tracks and lifestyle improvement apps that go beyond the physical to the mental and behavioral. Indeed, there’s more than a whiff of let’s-move-to-a-higher-plane in the hype over virtual reality. And given that its disruptions are all too often puerile, tech can certainly use a lot more self-reflection.

Job losses will accelerate as automation hits the office full-force

As software continues to eat more of the world, more and more office jobs that once required humans will be taken over by artificial intelligence algorithms and robots. Assurances by some AI proponents that software bots will augment rather than replace humans, making our lives easier and giving us time to do less mundane tasks, will be put to the test in earnest in 2017. A universal basic income will be discussed even more intensely, but it’s unlikely to be implemented outside of small test areas. In short, concerns about tech-driven job loss will intensify, with little in the way of concrete solutions emerging anytime soon, if ever.