The onset of a new year brings plenty of predictions, and so I will hazard one: Many of the biggest events of 2018 will be bound together by a common theme, namely the collision of the virtual internet with the real “flesh and blood” world. This integration is likely to steer our daily lives, our economy, and maybe even politics to an unprecedented degree.
For instance, the coming year will see a major expansion of the “internet of things,” especially home and other smart devices subject to our commands. So much of our time with information technology has been taken up by texting and Facebook, pure communications of symbols and photos and videos. The next steps will be controlling our doors, heating systems, lights, stoves and refrigerators, and moving toward driverless cars. The virtual world will be managing our older physical processes more and more.