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Your 2019 Predictions

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  • The first terabyte SD card is released




Announced at CES 2019. :)



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I'll start with a vague prediction: Machine Reading Comprehension and Natural Language Understanding will be really big this year.

I can't say exactly what will be produced; but the progress over the past 3 or 4 years has been remarkable -- and lately, it has taken off at an even faster rate. There is so much I could write about this, so much progress I have seen, just in the past year. There is every reason to believe it will spill over into 2019:

* Google's BERT system, for example, has lead to huge improvements in NLU.

* Microsoft Research produced a system called BIGBIRD that is raising eyebrows: https://mobile.twitt...889120386248704

* Are these systems really so hot, are they good at syntax-sensitive dependencies? Apparently, they are: https://mobile.twitt...717916821843969

And several people in this field seem to believe that training even larger models on ever larger amounts of data will lead to further improvements (I believe Jeff Dean hinted at this in one of his talks). So, 2019 might see all these latest systems taken up a notch further, by simply throwing more compute and data at the problem.

I'm not sure what this will mean in terms of products, though, as in-the-lab results don't immediately translate into products. Maybe Google's search engine will suddenly get a lot smarter; or maybe Google Assistant will be even better at answering questions; maybe chatbots will give even better answers; maybe Google Duplex will be even better at handling conversations. All of these have been improving.

I'm unsure what kind of benchmark to give for the prediction.


A second prediction is that some major BCI / brain scan group (Openwater and/or Facebook) will release an "alpha kit" product this year. This will not be the BCIs of scifi just yet. They'll probably be expensive and limited in terms of the number of voxels scanned -- but good enough for people to experiment with.

It's possible Openwater will need to delay to 2020 -- I can't say. But it's coming...

By the way, Kernel is now also working on non-invasive BCIs:


"A Vision Shared by Few, Feared by Many, and Destined for All".


I could make a prediction about NeuroMod, but I'll refrain.


There isn't enough info yet on what they are doing to make a prediction for 2019.
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Japan’s Emperor will abdicate, the first one to do so in over 200 years and this ending the Heisei era.

Following the death of Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, The government of Iran begins to see its influence wane domestically.



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I'm new here, to the forum, not the website and this site is both a guilty pleasure and place of discomfort - so hello to all the fellow folks like me who spend an inordinate amount of time pondering the future!


My predictions for the next decade are:


Mass unemployment by 2027 - automation will have made most manufacturing and skilled labor jobs obsolete, forcing the U.S. (and other western nations) to adopt a "basic standard living wage" form of welfare/unemployment.


Healthcare industry will continue to boom as humans want to live better and science will continue to see money in this endeavor.  Especially with greedy wealthy babyboomers seeking to live longer.


Gen Xers like myself will begin to take over the political and economic landscape and "hopefully" adopt intelligent strategies to combat climate change, wage disparity, crumbling infrastructure, cultural discrimination and incorporating diversity into our society.  White people (which I am) will need to adjust to becoming the minority and make monumental changes to society. White supremacy ideology will begin to fade as millennials become the dominant generation with much more progressive views (THANK GOD.)


Climate change, mass extinction, pandemics, scare resources will have to be confronted with cutting edge technology and emerging sciences to create solutions. There is no way to stop it, only guard against it and find scientific solutions.  Desalinization, renewable energy will become prevalent within the next 15 years. 


Space mining will become a very important part of our future, as will scavaging massive dump sites for minerals and repurposed materials.  Recycling will become a booming industry as future generations cut down on packaging and post-consumer waste which will be a huge problem for future generations.  I can see in mind's eye companies hired to scavage dumps sites for old electronics as we become more dependent on robots and tech for solutions to our past wastefulness. Dealing with these toxic environmental disasters will be a HUGE business for someone.  Elon Musk? 


Food will become scarce in most parts of the industrial world due to climate change, this will cause major conflicts around the world.  Rogue nations will get access to bio-weapons and use as leverage.  The future is exciting, and terrifying.  Science will be the problem and the solution.


I encourage everyone to harden to your resources for what's to come in the next 15 years. I'm what they call a liberal prepper.  Check it out.


Peace out!

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Related to what I said about Machine Reading and NLU being really big this year, Technology Review just a few hours ago wrote a little blurb about how pretty soon everything will be controlled by voice, thanks to these specific advances:


Whether or not you trust either company with that much control, such a grand undertaking will be limited by what voice assistants can understand. And compared with other subfields of AI, progress in natural-language processing and generation has kind of lagged behind.

But that could be about to change. Last year several research teams used new machine-learning techniques to make impressive breakthroughs in language comprehension. In June, for example, research nonprofit OpenAI developed an unsupervised learning technique to train systems on unstructured, rather than cleaned and labeled, text. It dramatically lowered the costs of acquiring more training data, thereby increasing their system’s performance. A few months later, Google released an even better unsupervised algorithm that is as good as humans at completing sentences with multiple-choice answers.

All these advancements are getting us closer to a day when machines that really understand what we mean could render physical and visual interfaces obsolete—and usher in the full potential of an OMO world. For better or worse.

I didn't mention OpenAI -- I should have, and should have also mentioned AllenAI, which has contributed to these recent advances. And it's all very recent. In previous years, there were big advancements, with systems reaching human-level performance on specific reading benchmarks; but nothing like what has recently come out of Google, Microsoft, OpenAI, AllenAI, etc.

Still, AI trained with brain data would take that up a few more notches, enabling system that not only do a good job of getting the gist of things; but understand it like a human, including a lot of the commonsense and pragmatic subtlety of language. They will not just be able to fake "human" (like Google Duplex, and the even better system by Alibaba) by hiding what they don't understand, and steering the conversation; but will actually understand.
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Synthesized 3D objects you can view from different angles in VR (3D VR still images) may be a big thing in 2019. There have been some impressive advances lately:


Note that this is much harder than synthesizing 2D images. And 3D VR video is even harder, still.
Also, GANs have recently been shown to learn things about the world that border on "commonsense":

It’s been unclear before now whether there was any way of learning this kind of thing... That it *is* possible suggests that deep learning can get us closer to how our brains work than we previously thought...

So, the 3D image synthesis might include details you might not expect machines to be capable of producing.

I think various groups are looking to "the next big thing" in GAN-based media synthesis, having shown they can get good results for 2D stills. 2D video synthesis is one possible direction; but 3D VR scenes will probably be easier, so they way focus their effort on that in 2019. I expect to see several more results like the above, perhaps for whole scenes, instead of lone 3D objects.

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Yuli Ban

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The year so far....


  • At some point during this period, the United States is struck by the most devastating earthquake in its history
  • The European Spallation Source (ESS) becomes operational
  • 3D printing becomes a mainstream consumer technology
  • The New Horizons probe arrives at Kuiper Belt Object 2014 MU69
  • The first mission to a gas giant using solar sail propulsion
  • The first prototype Stratobus is launched
  • Launch of the BIOMASS mission [2022]
  • Europe's Galileo satellite navigation system is fully operational
  • Computers break the exaflop barrier
  • Bionic eyes with high resolution are commercially available
  • A vaccine to treat melanoma
  • Connected vehicle technology is being deployed in a number of countries
  • Automated freight transport
  • US copyright begins to expire, starting with all works from 1923
  • LEDs dominate the lighting industry
  • Jordan opens its first nuclear power plant
  • The City Circle Line opens in Copenhagen
  • The East Side Access subway extension opens in New York
  • The final collapse of the Larsen B ice shelf
My own predictions:
  • 5G officially begins, with 5G networks starting out in various cities in Europe, East Asia, and North America. Dubai and Singapore will also likely adopt it. 
  • 5G connectivity is promised to finally bring about the long-hyped Internet of Things
  • 5G connectivity also theorized to boost potential of wireless VR
  • Virtual reality market slumps, but stabilizes, mostly due to the novelty beginning to wear off right as VR capabilities start increasing [Growth has been much more robust than expected]
  • Next generation of VR headsets from Oculus, Vive, and Samsung are unveiled throughout the year [Swap Samsung with Valve]
  • Apple unveils either VR or AR headset [Still only rumors]
  • Microsoft unveils VR headset prototype, though it will not release this year
  • Commercial robotics market suffers major slump due to perceived lack of utility. Robots such as Roomba, Knightscope, and Pepper will survive.
  • Boston Dynamics formally releases SpotMini in limited numbers as a tool for R&D and entertainment. SpotMini will almost certainly cost more than a luxury vehicle, but the price is promised to eventually come down [They're probably going to formally release it later this week or sometime soon, but they missed the half-year mark for it to go here]
  • DeepMind's AI defeats human experts at Starcraft II
  • AlphaZero taught to play more games than just go, chess, and shogi
  • IMPALA-based AI shown to master Atari games [We've heard little about IMPALA since last year]
  • Quantum supremacy is achieved
  • Destructive brain scan technology (the basis for new BCIs) are formally released and early feedback from the brain already allows for extreme gains in deep learning
  • BCIs are also paired with augmented reality in experiments
  • CG graphics achieve near-total photorealism in a tech demo
  • AI generates photorealistic CGI
  • AI generates speech indistinguishable from a human, including subtleties in cadence and intonation
  • AI generates a more complex cartoon, perhaps 10 seconds long, based on textual input
  • Personalized content creation teases the mainstream due to some sort of generative AI becoming a short-lived meme [This X Does Not Exist and DeepNudes both qualify]
  • Next-gen consoles are formally teased, but not unveiled
  • AI funding undergoes a major slump as hype begins to face reality
  • There is a steep economic downturn in major industrialized countries. GDP growth falls to stagnation-levels in otherwise strong economies and enters prolonged decline in weaker ones [There's been stagnation and a few recessions, but the global economy is still chugging along]
  • The UK goes through with a No-Deal Brexit, triggering a major geopolitical crisis and potentially leading to talks of Scottish and Welsh independence
  • China begins ensnaring Africa in debt traps and uses this to take over land and territory. 
  • As property values fall and businesses declare bankruptcy, Chinese investors buy up property all across North America and Europe
  • Russia and China pursue closer relations with Venezuela, Cuba, and Mexico, with China spearheading this outreach
  • China's economy flatlines, leading to a political crisis and total consolidation of power by Xi Jinping (effectively turning China into a full-fledged totalitarian state)
  • Oil prices fall back to 2016 lows
  • Marijuana legalization continues to spread
  • Psilocybin is decriminalized or legalized in a US state [Only cities at the moment]
  • Embryonic genetic engineering occurs again in China, forcing Western scientists to accelerate ethical research while continuing to condemn China for allowing rogue researchers to defy the scientific process
  • Prosthetic hand created that has very high levels of fluidity and precision gripping
  • Texting-by-thinking first demonstrated with the new generation of BCI
  • Number of electric cars on the road passes 6 million
  • Level 3 AVs see wider commercialization, with at least a half dozen models being released or announced by year's end
  • Level 4 AV tech teased by Waymo, Uber, and others, but remains in the prototype stage
  • Autonomous vehicle services expand
  • Passenger drones begin testing for commercialization
  • SpaceX formally announces lunar orbit mission date, most likely some time in 2020
  • Automation begins stinging the job market, though in relatively light ways due to the limitations of AI
  • Room-temperature superconductor formally found, though only at extremely high pressures
  • Generative AI/machine learning used to create a stylistic editor, able to allow one to write closer to another person's style [I've seen nothing quite like this yet]
  • Solar power capacity reaches well over 600 GW by year's end, with most growth in China and India [Obviously can't be known yet]
  • Indian air quality deteriorates as the country continues to industrialize and urbanize
  • Voice recognition technology becomes widely used thanks to smart speakers
  • Smart speakers become a more common and widespread aspect of hotels
  • SSDs begin overtaking hard drive sales as their price collapses, perhaps by as much as 50% [SSDs are predicted to overtake HDDs in 2021]
  • The first terabyte SD card is released
  • Self-flying drone tech spreads as more affordable drones adopt the capability
  • Boston Dynamics unveils massively improved version of Atlas and/or Handle
  • Next generation of gene tools beyond CRISPR are developed, but not formally released
  • Gene editing used to tackle sickle cell disease
  • New smartphones are announced that are explicitly designed to take advantage of 5G and deep learning
  • Cultured meat goes on sale for at least a test at commercialization
  • There is growing agreement that tech companies need to be regulated and broken up, and Europe spearheads this. America drags its feet.
  • Railgun, directed energy tech accelerates due to a growing arms race between the US, China, and Russia
  • Russia begins investing exponentially more into AI, alarming the West and stoking fears of weaponized autonomous weapons
  • Israel also begins investing heavily into making more autonomous weapons
  • Another AI company besides DeepMind develops an AI capable of doing more than one task [OpenAI is now ahead of the game]
  • Service robots begin spreading into retail after failing in the home
  • Another animal is made de-extinct

Plenty of things that are currently red, yellow, and blue will probably turn green by the end of the year.

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And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.




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I made 3 predictions in the above thread:

* Major progress on Natural Language Understanding

* BCI alpha-kit from some company (e.g. Openwater or Facebook), but said that I thought OpenWater might wait till 2020.

* Major progress on synthesis of 3D objects using Deep Learning -- much harder than 2D objects.

Well, the NLU stuff has definitely been proved in the works of Microsoft and Google, and also OpenAI's GPT-2 (I made the prediction before GPT-2 came out!). Microsoft's recent work achieved human-level performance on the GLUE benchmark, and reached near to human performance on a Winograd Schemas task; Google then went a step further with their XLNET, that, in particular, achieved 90.4% accuracy on that Winograd Schemas task (human performance is around 95%).

The BCI prediction has not yet been borne out, but there are a few months to spare.

The 3D stuff is coming along nicely. Johnnd posted this to my forum the other day:

YouTube video of a "Two Minute Paper"

We'll see even more advances this year.


I could have made predictions about global politics and such, but I have learned in years past that it's best to predict the things you know something about -- and I don't know a enough about geopolitics.

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Looks like Raklian's prediction is coming into focus:

Donald Trump becomes the 3rd U.S. President to get impeached by the House of Representatives, although he is likely not to be convicted by the Senate. He will finish his first term only to lose to a Democrat challenger during his bid for re-election. The Mueller investigations will not indict Trump until after he finishes his Presidency but some of his children and close associates will not be as lucky.

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Are we close enough to the end of the year to reexamine some of the predictions of the past year?




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Speaking of my 2019 predictions, I had posted something on synthesis of 3D scenes using GANs a couple days ago to my forum, but didn't post it here:




Post to my forum:




It's really impressive stuff!  3D synthesis of scenes from any angle viewpoint.  Probably if this or similar method is scaled up, and sped-up, it would enable complete synthesis of 3D scenes for VR.  I suppose they would need to add a few more degrees of freedom -- 3 for translation, and maybe one additional rotation.  The extra rotation angle can be synthesized from the outputs already given, so isn't necessary (just rotate the image).  


But I was hoping for an even more impressive demo for 2019, directly involving a VR headset, so my prediction wasn't quite met -- kind of half met.  Though, my prediction -- as stated -- was more conservative:


I think various groups are looking to "the next big thing" in GAN-based media synthesis, having shown they can get good results for 2D stills. 2D video synthesis is one possible direction; but 3D VR scenes will probably be easier, so they way focus their effort on that in 2019. I expect to see several more results like the above, perhaps for whole scenes, instead of lone 3D objects.


The one about BCIs is still not here.  Although, Openwater could be supplying developers with alpha kits already.  They claim to be seeking developers to work in their lab; alpha kit will have to be programmed in lab, at least initially.  Facebook might release something before the end of 2019 for demo purposes.  They have already built a prototype of their BCI, apparently; and trying to improve the form-factor.  They also hope to improve temporal and spatial resolution.  Kernel is working on non-invasive BCIs, too, and we might hear from them again soon:




Word is getting around about the potential of BCIs to improve AI:




And, of course, my prediction about advances in Natural Language Understanding are completely met.  In fact, the progress is even greater than I had expected.




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A machine will win the 2019 Dota 2 world championship.

I was right in spirit, but wrong in the specifics. 


The Dota 2 world championship, which is a yearly event called "The International," did not allow machines to compete against human players this year, as it did in 2018. 


However, the human team that won The International 2019, team "OG," lost a best-out-of-three-matches game against the OpenAI machine this year. One of those three games was a big blowout for the machine. 


OG won the 2018 and 2019 Internationals. Had OpenAI been allowed to compete in 2019, it probably would have beaten all the humans. 



Yuli Ban

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Are we close enough to the end of the year to reexamine some of the predictions of the past year?

Generally, yes. Specifically, no. I don't like examining yearly predictions until the last week (preferably the last day) of the year precisely because stranger things have happened and it's possible for a prediction that's a raw, pulsating red to suddenly go to a pleasant green or at least a blue at the last minute.

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And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.

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