40 predictions for 2019

Time spent on this post: about 3 hours thinking + writing

What better way to kick off my new blog than with a ridiculous post that will age terribly? I started writing this a month ago (Jan 12), and in revising this post, I’m already surprised by some of my old predictions and thoughts. I hope I look at this in a year, roll my eyes, and learn from my mistakes. If you’re looking at this and already rolling your eyes, congrats! You’re way ahead of me.

So, why do this? This idea is inspired by Scott Alexander’s practice of writing quantified predictions every year to refine his understanding of the world. Over the past few years, I’ve been more reactive than proactive, and I’d like to change that. I’d like to develop the habit of learning about the world, forming good mental models, and acting on them, instead of my life and thoughts simply being the product of my immediate environment. Plus, the very act of writing these has helped me think about my ideas clearly, rather than floating around in vague narratives.

This isn’t meant to be punditry, and the only reason I’m publishing this is so I’m forced to actually finish writing my predictions. Plus, it could make for some fun conversations.

The few friends I’ve told about this exercise have found it fairly silly. Their main critiques, all very valid:

  • What if I get something right but for the wrong reasons? The reasoning is more important than the result.
  • Individual predictions may not add up to a cohesive worldview or deeper understanding of trends.
  • What do you learn from predicting that Slack will IPO? You probably aren’t tracking things that really matter.
  • What you’re not tracking is a huge blind spot and you won’t be able to learn more there regardless.

This is a blunt instrument, to be sure, but it’s a first step! Hopefully I’ll improve the framework of this exercise itself in future years.

And one final note: is the world getting harder to predict? FT’s forecasters think so. I agree to some extent — the internet is making things weirder and faster, and current experts have outdated assumptions. But maybe non-experts can develop a more accurate set of assumptions and get it right?

Politics — U.S. & World

  1. House of Reps begins impeachment proceedings against Trump: 70% chance
  2. Mueller indicts Trump: 10%
  3. Trump leaves office: 5%
  4. RBG retires from Supreme Court: 30%
  5. Beto O’Rourke announces Dem presidential candidacy: 60%
  6. Biden announces Dem candidacy: 90%
  7. Hillary announces Dem candidacy: 5%
  8. US-China trade wars reach a truce: 50%
  9. “Hard” Brexit occurs: 60%
  10. Theresa May out as UK PM: 80%
  11. MbS still in power: 95%
  12. Xi Jinping still in power: 99%

Climate change

  1. 2019 is hottest year on record: 90% chance

Tech companies

Though I partially work in tech, I don’t have any inside information here. I get my tech news through Twitter and news outlets/blogs.

  1. Slack IPOs: 70% chance
  2. Workers of one major tech company (e.g. Amazon warehouse workers) unionize: 30%
  3. Netflix launches another interactive movie: 90%
  4. Snapchat gets acquired: 10%
  5. Amazon abandons LIC HQ2: 1% (Feb 2018: LOL)
  6. A Bytedance app introduces payment/wallet functionality: 80%
  7. Bytedance IPOs: 10%

Crypto

  1. BTC > $1000 (current price ~ $3600): 90% chance
  2. BTC > $3000: 80%
  3. BTC > $5000: 20%
  4. ETH > $100: 80%
  5. ETH > $500: 20%

Economy / stocks

  1. U.S. enters recession: 60% chance
  2. S&P ends above today (2,596): 20%

Culture

It’s pretty hard to make cultural predictions, since culture is so much about narrative and reaction…

  1. World Record Egg gets dethroned as most-liked post on IG: 10% chance
  2. Despacito gets dethroned as most-viewed video on youtube: 20%
  3. Beyonce releases a new album: 80%
  4. Rihanna releases a new album: 60%

Personal

I’m torn on the idea of personal predictions. How does the very act of making predictions about things I have control over, impact the outcome?

  1. I meet > 300 people this year as part of 2019 goal: 90% chance
  2. I take singing lessons: 80%
  3. I take guitar lessons: 50%
  4. I go to physical therapy: 90% chance
  5. I can run 1x/wk again: 60% chance
  6. I travel abroad (excluding family China trip) at least once this year: 40% chance
  7. I visit San Francisco at least once this year: 80% chance
  8. I get > 5000 Twitter followers: 80%
  9. I get > 1000 Instagram followers: 40%

Bonus: Predictions I can’t easily measure

  1. Figma becomes the design industry’s primary tool of choice
  2. Instagram remains the leading social app among The Youths
  3. Stories become primary mode of sharing on IG/FB
  4. More of my SF friends move to NY than NY friends move to SF (unmeasurable because it’s hard to define friendship 😅)

If you have Thoughts and Feelings about this post, you can reach me via Twitter, Instagram, or email.