2018 :Coping with the past and looking into the future!


While it is popular to be optimistic about a new year, it does seem like 2018 will depend largely on how to cope with some of the mis-deeds of the last few years. One of the phenomena that has struck us the world over is that victory is on the margins. Not just at Wimbledon and the other Grand Prix matches, where often the winner is stretched into a 5 setter, with a tie break for the last winning point. In athletics margins of victory are reduced to a few seconds. ‘Blowouts’ or the easy one sided victory seem to be near impossible in today’s global politics. Most victories seem to be on this margins, producing an unhappy and large minority!


Typically a majority vote is strengthening not weakening. But in the case of Brexit political rhetoric escalated and the far reaching effects of the Brexit vote have spawned a number of unrests in commercial, social and cultural spheres.

The argumentum ad populum is a red herring and genetic fallacy. It appeals on probabilistic terms; given that 52% of a population answers A to a question where the answer is uncertain, the argument states that it is reasonable to assume that the answer is indeed A.

Eighteen months after the vote, there still seems no resolution. Hopefully 2018 will make sense of a decision taken two years ago. A resolution for Brexit has far reaching effects both on the UK and the rest of Europe and therefore the world.

In retrospect the question still remains : was it wise to call for a referendum?

The Trump Presidency

A good year on, there seems to be as many misgivings of Trump as President as when he was first contesting for the post with Hillary Clinton.

Whether it is global snafus like naming Jerusalem the capital of Israel, provoking North Korea instead of calming them down, or snafus on global warming, the list of unforced errors from the Presidency is an embarrassment both for supporters, and the opposition. 2018 may well have to be the landmark year for a final reconciliation with the discomfort of the current Presidency. With 2 years to go, to the next Presidential election in the USA, it is time to gather forces both for the supporters and the detractors.

The Great Indian Demonetisation

A year after India braved the most courageous demonetisation ever, the verdict seemed depressing. None of the black money that India had hoped to mop up, seem to have got caught in the net of demonetisation. In many ways it was a fishing expedition gone awry. Instead most people only carried forward unhappy memories of the inconvenience and stress caused by it. While the only silver lining of the demonetisation seem to have been the large increase digital payments, that might have been less tortuous ways to have achieved that. Certainly it is a case study of sorts. And countries that might want to consider the option of demonetisation in the future are likely to be discouraged by the Indian example.

The Russian Social Media Conspiracy

Social media no doubt has become an important factor in the elections of most countries. It is a powerful tool to manipulate emotions and votes of the masses. But when Facebook admitted that content that came out of Russia propaganda had reached 126 million Americans, it proved that one can use social media not only to influence the elections of our own countries, but other countries as well – a useful ploy to overcome an enemy and in the process to control the world.

So it does seem like while man is making so much digital progress, there still seems to be a lot we don’t understand. Its almost like a bridge game where you think the process of bidding disclosed all his cards. But it is the cards you don’t know that always make the difference!

Big Brother is Watching You

George Orwells dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty Four seems to become more and real with every passing year. Whether it is the Aadhar Card in India, that seems to identify every Indian and everything about him including his biometrics, we may soon be losing whatever little privacy we have. Since Google knows exactly where we are and which traffic jam we are stuck in, and can almost peer into our houses, while the government knows exactly what we doing and every transaction that we make, there is little doubt that Big Brother is no longer a dystopian fantasy.

The Chinese Credit Rating system is again bigger than Big Brother himself. The system will constantly monitor and evaluate citizens while giving them a positive or negative score. And if you know each others scores, you would know who are the good guys and bad guys amongst us.

Intelligent Virtual Assistants

With Alexa already becoming a hit and the much awaited Apple Home Pod yet to be launched, 2018 might well be the year of the intelligent virtual assistants as Amazon, Apple and Google, make talking to these assistants a habit. Initially used for music and maps and just to scour the internet for questions that any one might have about anything, these assistants seem to be growing in their capabilities to do things around the home from timing the oven to switching off the lights. But Alexa is soon going beyond just being a voice controlled device that can control everything around in your environment. Ford for example is integrating Alexa into cars as was demonstrated in this video. No doubt Apple and Google will be hot in pursuit. And we will be increasingly become dependent one these assistants in 2018.

The Future seems Closer

And finally the future seems closer than ever. As Alvin Toffler put it, we seem to be colliding with our own future. Artificial intelligence is no longer a fantasy that is portrayed in TV serials like West World and Extant. With Sophie being granted citizenship of Saudi Arabia, artificial intelligence is already acquiring an eerie quality about it. If we consider artificial intelligence as an aid to human intelligence, the future might be better assured.

Whichever way you look at it , 2018 might be a breakthrough year to take the past into the future.

The fictional future seems much closer to us than we think!

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Prabhakar Mundkur has spent 40 years in advertising and worked in India, Africa and Asia. He is currently Chief Mentor with HGS Interactive a part of HGS in the Hinduja Group. He is on the advisory board of Sol 's Arc (solsarc.org ) an NGO dedicated to special education for intellectually challenged children. He is also a member of Whiteboard ( whiteboardindia.org ) which supports senior management of NGOs in financial management, PR, Communication and HR through pro bono expertise.


  1. Good one Prabs. Yes, winning certainly seems to be by margins. Wonder what that truly means though? That people are more polarised in their views, less homogenous? Or have politicians just found larger, more polarising issues? Or that media feeds have become more polarised? Dunno. But very thought provoking.

  2. I wish I had frequented this place earlier.

    Amazing how Data like Sophia looks. Clearly Hanson is a Star Trek fan.

    On leading by a few marginal points, that’s what makes good debaters so much in demand.

    1. Sumit, don’t know if you are aware but Sophia came to India last week for the TechFest hosted by IIT Mumbai. The Techfest happens along with Mood Indigo etc. The interesting part is that Sophia was draped in a sari, but unfortunately because of a technical glitch had to be re-booted. Maybe robots also have trouble with moving through time zones.

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