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2017 in the Rear-View Mirror; 2018 Comes into Focus

Happy New Year dear readers!

The past year has seen its ups and downs regarding privacy and issues with civil liberty implications. The net neutrality debacle engineered by President Trump and his minions sucked much of the oxygen from other issues, as well as media “ink,” but it wasn’t, by far, all that was happening in this arena.

Near the top of the list are the nearly universal effort to ramp up for the EU General Data Protection Regulation and the machinations attendant to it. It not only represented a victory for private individuals, but Europe's regulations have been a boon to the privacy technology industry too, as privacy pros are clearly in need of automated and scalable solutions to help navigate the brave new privacy regulation climate.

Beyond privacy regulation, the privacy world witnessed two of the biggest and most damaging breaches in digital history. The first was the repercussions of the massive breach of Equifax, which was breath-taking in scope and for its blowback. Next on the hit-parade was Uber, which rocked the world by acknowledging that the personal information of more than 50 million individual passengers, and seven million drivers, had been hacked.

While the actual criminal act of the hack was trouble enough for Uber, what made things worse and all the more shocking was its cover-up. The company knew about it for nearly a year and paid off the hackers to keep the breach out of the public’s and the regulator’s radar.

2017 also saw massive advances in technology. Perhaps chief among them, for better and for worse, was the introduction of facial recognition technology to the mainstream. In this regard, Apple led the way with its release in 2017 of the iPhone X, which formally introduced a facial recognition authentication system. But on the scary side was Chinese government. In some of its provinces, it abused citizens’ privacy rights and liberties with the massive deployment of facial recognition capabilities.

But in the fast-paced digital world, 2017 may seem like a blip or a blur compared to what’s coming down the pike in 2018. Yes, there will probably be big hacks, but it is likely that they will be overshadowed by the technological advancements of this year. A recent Wall Street Journal article will help us go beyond the ever-recurring hacks and bitcoin buzz, to assess what 2018 may look like.

Electric Cars Will Be More Affordable

The range will increase and prices drop on some of the more familiar electric car names from Toyota, Tesla, Chevrolet, Nissan, and Honda, making a work-commute possible using electricity only. Moreover, with some sticker prices hovering around $30,000, green technology is within more people’s grasp. A newcomer to the electric parade in 2018, Honda will finally roll out its own 47-mile-range plug-in hybrid, the Honda Clarity ($33,400).

Facebook Returns To “Social Roots”

Scarred from all the backlash it received last year, Facebook is determined to return to its roots. “We want the time people spend on Facebook to encourage meaningful social interactions,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote recently. Look for Facebook to weigh its approach to branching out, rather than just consuming media and displaying content.  We’ll also gain more control via w a “snooze” feature that allows you to hide a person or page for 30 days without having to unfollow or unfriend them. This is especially welcome to avoid the ubiquitous obnoxious posters.

AI - No Escaping It

If you liked Siri and Alexa, you’re in for a treat in 2018, as artificial intelligence will invade other aspects of our digital lives. For example, Google Gmail, after analyzing your style, will be able to format and generate generic instant replies to an email. Late last year, Google, Facebook, and Apple launched mobile machine-learning tools for app developers, and new AI-optimized chips from companies like Qualcomm and Apple are starting to appear in smartphones. And, of course, look for AI to be more prominent in appliances all throughout the home and office.

Editor's note: BestVPN.com recommends avoiding using the likes of Siri, Alexa, and anything Google-related, on privacy grounds. 

Not To Be Overlooked

Other themes are not going to disappear in 2018- such as the aforementioned hacking. So it looks like we’re just going to proceed with hacks as the “new normal” for the time being. Cryptocurrencies will not go out of vogue, even as they prove to be clumsy for traditional transactions and costly to mine. But they will still become targets for hoarding, as speculators continue to pile in. Where that leaves favorites like Bitcoin is anyone’s guess. But treading lightly and carefully seems to be good advice - especially for the uninitiated.

All in all, the table is set for it to be another interesting year. So, buckle up, settle back, stay tuned, and follow all the developments right here in these pages.#

Image credit: By oatawa/Shuterstock.

Written by: Stan Ward

Stan Ward has enjoyed writing for 50 years. Writing has been a comfortable companion to a successful business and teaching career for him. Find him on Google+.

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