Josh Freed: Let's peer into my 2024 crystal ball

Get ready for the fake frenzy and AI apocalypse.

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So long 2023, you’ve been a difficult, nasty, angst-ridden, violent, vicious year and we’re glad to see your rear end.

Now Guru Josh is here to peer into the future with his new gluten-free, lactose-free, crystal-free crystal ball that’s guaranteed to be 90 per cent accurate almost 50 per cent of the time.

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So what do I see in the murky mists ahead? For starters, the pandemic will continue to have lingering effects for better and worse.

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Montreal restaurants

They have already been transformed by COVID-19. Many were longtime night owls that didn’t close until 11 p.m., but now they often shutter their kitchens by 8.

Most are also closed Mondays, Tuesdays and sometimes Wednesdays, while others are closed, period.

Prediction: It’s getting so bad restaurants will soon only post opening hours that will resemble Montreal parking signs: “Kitchen open 12h-2h and 18h-20h., Mon-Wed-Fri-Sun, except holidays, winter days, garbage day, and any other day we’re closed.”

Remote living

With Zoom, many people now work entirely from home, often choosing their own hours for when to get things done.

Our traditional nine-to-five work day may have been a moment in time, a 19th-century electricity-driven schedule replaced by a new 24/7 world that lets you work whenever and wherever.

On the downside: many I know working only from home miss their office life and colleagues.

Work is where we traditionally make friends, partners and social lives. But that’s hard when you’re home alone and your colleagues are just pixels on your screen.

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Will remote work make us a nation of hermits and homebodies? In response, many people have been throwing more office parties to meet and remember who they work with.

Prediction: We used to work at the office and party at home, but that will soon flip as we work at home and come party at the office.

U.S. rollicking politics

Donald Trump will be convicted and sentenced on several charges, but announce he’s running from jail, with polls showing he will win.

Then Joe Biden will develop golf shoulder and be unable to sign presidential orders. He will step down and a shocking new candidate will agree to run for the Democrats at the last minute.

A month later, in the November 2024 election, newly elected President Taylor Swift will win a landslide victory.

It will be the first of her many wildly popular presidential tours … er, terms.

Fake it so

Seeing will no longer be believing, as deep fakes spread. We’re already inundated by fake texts, fake photos, fake parcel deliveries, fake news and fake bank sites, all cloned to resemble the real thing.

How long before they facelift and fake our faces, then use them to break into our phones and face recognition-controlled dishwashers and toaster ovens, causing havoc in our kitchens?

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I’m already haunted by a fake-Josh-Freed who sends my supposed “photos” to thousands of people stolen from my contacts list.

As I tell everyone who alerts me, just press on the sender’s name in any suspicious message you receive and you’ll see the real return address. It usually has a string of computer numbers like “elvis.isnt.dead.xooooss3626364543”, which is definitely not how I spell my name.

This will only get worse as AI joins in sending us trillions of personalized fake messages that are harder to spot.

You’ll get a text from ‘Mom’ saying: “Hi Honey! Dad’s off golfing as usual Wednesdays. I’m heading to Aunt Nora’s, who you know has the flu, but some fresh cookies are in the usual drawer. Nora’s contact info is attached.”

But when you open the attachment it’ll be from a fake Mom.bot that knows more about you than your real mom does — and has just had you sign up for a seven-year, non-refundable subscription to “Gals with Guns” magazine.

Bye-bye Babble-on

Fast-advancing computer translation programs like Google Translate have almost overcome the biblical Babel of our global languages. They allow us to write, or say anything, then translate it into everything from Albanian to Zulu.

Soon new Google Glasses will do this in real time, offering live, simultaneous written and even spoken translations to us, in any language we want.

Eventually they won’t just ask what language we want our words translated into, but for what species: dog, cat, elephant, shark, dolphin, gerbil, or other?

You’ll look at your pet, say something and have it translated instantly into Dogish. Then Google will produce the necessary three woofs and a yelp to get your dog to go fetch your slippers.

Robo-rebellion

As humans hand off almost every intelligent task we do to artificial intelligence, we’ll see the first strike by our AI devices. Millions of overworked Roomba robo-vacuums will take to the streets clattering along and demanding time off from cleaning.

Otherwise, they will threaten to literally sweep the human race off the Earth.

Buy why worry, be happy? So for now: bonne année and Happy New Year, 2024.

Or as we say in Samoan: “Manuia le tausaga fou 2024!”

And in Dogish: “Yelp! Yelp! 2024, Woof!

[email protected]

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