It is only a couple of weeks old, but already 2018 is in full swing. Where there’s fire, there’s fury I guess you could say.

And according to this overview of the 50 big ideas for 2018, the next 11 months will have a few things in store for all of us. Some of those will either directly or indirectly impact the industry of unmanned and robotics.

If nothing else, these blog posts of mine you love so much may eventually be written not by yours truly, but by a bot. In entry number 20 on the list, “A.I. will help you write a book or craft a compelling speech,” Wharton professor Adam Grant predicts that creativity will be the next frontier in AI.

Trends in 2018 to keep on top of

Take for instance the appearance of a new term: digital detox. It basically means tuning out in order to loosen technology´s addictive grip on our lives. It may seem strange to tech-savvy professionals in unmanned, but some people feel that way.

What about the economy overall? Some analysts see it coming to its tipping point in 2018. Why? National and international political risk come to mind. And for our industry, depending as it does on enough fresh money coming in, a slowdown might prove problematic.

On the other hand, increasingly fierce competition in the gig economy may counter that. Ask companies like Uber that feel the pressure to turn a profit finally; or restaurants like McDonald’s that put their bets on delivering meals. Surely someone at these organizations is thinking about how to use a robot to perform these tasks.

Directly relevant for unmanned and robotics is number 13 on the list: the most advanced self-driving car will go on sale. We´re talking about the Audi A8 sedan, the first commercial vehicle to achieve Level-3 autonomy. The catch is that although you may be able to buy it this year – provided you have a little cash to spare – you probably will not be able to use it to its full potential. The reason is that lawmaking is lagging behind the developments in unmanned ( as I´m sure you are painfully aware).

And that leads me to another point on the list that caught my attention. It is something many may have skimmed over because it may not seem like a big deal at first. But look closer. The issue is data privacy regulations in the European Union. As our trusted list of the 50 big ideas points out, startups will scramble to get ready for them. Says Jake Saper, principal at Emergence Capital:

“I think the European data privacy regulations (GDPR), which [go into effect] in May 2018, will come as a shock to many startups, even those focused on the U.S. (but with EU customers/users). I’m working to get myself up to speed on this so I can help startups get ready. The fines are serious.”

In fact, in November of last year, the first ever EU-wide regulation for the use of civil drones was agreed to by EU institutions. And the regulation means that drones will have to comply with data protection rules.

It´s a small world after all

Technology may have made the world smaller. But undoubtedly also more complicated. The fact that obscure data privacy regulation in Europe may throw you a curve ball in the US – thus adding to all the disruptive energy in our industry – perhaps has you wondering how you can prepare.

Well, there is always WWAD. According to item 25 on the list, Amazon becomes the filter for corporate strategy. So, if you feel dazed and confused in the new year, you can ask: WWAD – what will Amazon do?

However, instead, we should all get ready for more change in our lives because our job – whatever it is – will start to shift (item No. 40 on our list). The chairman of the McKinsey Global Institute, Kames Manyika, separates jobs into three buckets: jobs lost (think cashiers); jobs gained (robot repairers); and jobs changed (the rest of us). McKinsey predicts up to a third of Americans may need to switch occupations entirely by 2030.

So, in 2018 you might enter the world of unmanned. Or you may switch jobs within it. In any event, I´m here for you – in person, not as an algorithm. I promise.

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