Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Shit I think I believe but am not currently betting on

Otherwise known as bullshit opinions.  We will see how some of these look in 5 years.

1) The justice department is dumb enough to approve the merger of Time Warner and Comcast.  The combined entity will be an open nightmare for consumers because they will have the political heft to be able to raise prices (politics is what has really held back pricing power in over half of the zip codes to date).  It will also be a secret nightmare because they will be able to start charging Youtube and Netflix carriage fees for making sure their video streams correctly.  The slow televisionization of the internet will accelerate as a result.  Perhaps this accounts for our first "golden age of television" -- the internet will be the best version of TV yet.  I call this a hidden nightmare because we won't even know what we're missing as a result.  The future has no constituency.

2) Healthcare costs will reaccelerate and Obamacare will be acknowledged as a first and very limited step in healthcare reform.  The new trendline spending increases of 4-5% will still be below the old trendline of 6-8%, but this will only be because higher deductible and out-of-pocket plans will grow faster than the market and people who simply don't have the money will skimp on spending everywhere they can.  If no step two is forthcoming, healthcare reform will end up being considered a colossal mistake on the right and a colossal missed opportunity on the left.  Fundamentally, nothing has changed about the very fucked up incentive structure of this system.

3) The internet of things will start to become a mass reality and we will all spend a lot more time staring at and talking to our devices trying to figure out why the thermostat just shot up to 90 degrees while the fridge turned off and the floodlights started blinking the tune of Jingle Bells.  It will be just like the movie Brazil, where if only you could get the future to work right, it would be amazing.  This development will be ludicrous from a human quality of life perspective, because we will perpetually spend enormous time debugging a future that is only marginally different from our present in the ways that really matter to us.  However, the internet of things will make perfect sense from the perspective of the machines.  They will have hooked us into a debugging their system by offering the equivalent of shiny glass beads to the natives.  Are small pox blankets to follow?  Ask me again in five years.

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