• The biggest stories of 2018

  • Five companies that will surface on your radar this year

We need to brace ourselves for even more extreme, non-linear events in 2018 than we saw in 2017, which left markets melting up, with further shrinking in price discovery, and a global financial system twisted out of shape like a New York Bagel.

Here are some things to watch for 2018.

1. Odds on: A serious ‘flash crash’ or worse, a ‘splash crash‘ across asset classes as less than 30% of all US equity trading is human originated but given over to algorithms, whose sometimes eerie emergent behaviour is beyond human or algorithmic understanding and control.

2. High probability: A cluster of cyber attacks beyond more of 2017’s inevitable corporate breaches and ransomware attacks along the lines of the Dyn attack of 2016, attacks on utilities and, eg, futures markets. N.Korea’s Moranbong University and Daesh will be foci of attention, for chemical and bio-terrorist attacks as well.

3. 2018 will see Blockchain as a real, live technology that needs to be deployed in finance – to slash back office, settlement and compliance costs – and in the Industrial IoT on security grounds.

4. Bitcoin – our story for 2017 this time last year – will begin to be seen as a serious alternative currency option, with a price dip in prospect due to regulatory intervention. ‘Mining’ Bitcoin may again cause some serious energy spikes and a surge in GPU and flash memory prices as in the summer of 2017.

5. A lot of attention will be focused on the shortage of mathematicians and data scientists suitable for cybersecurity and AI work with the internet giants in the US, Europe and China, and ‘starred’ start-ups, especially in 2018 in China, scooping the pool and forcing everyone else on to the cloud, which may run into capacity constraints.

6. The headline stories in AI will be mostly about AI as a huge and gathering factor in global power politics, with China’s unexpectedly sharp rise in AI 2018’s standout story.

7. A quickening flow of ‘high gosh’ factor stories about advances in quantum computing at IBM, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Hefei University with confusion over timelines and what exactly QC can be used for and when.

8. A close watch on progress in solid state battery R&D and advances towards high density 4.7 volt lithium-ion batteries.

9. Musk has a nervous breakdown and/or can’t raise funds needed from shareholders and/or Tesla is perceived as an energy storage play as much as an EV play or none of these but simply scales up the Model 3 sufficiently.

10. Beware hype over 3D printing with the entry of HPE and GE into the market with metal printers. To truly take off 3D printing needs stronger and more resilient powdered materials.

11. Amazon starts to seriously eat into Facebook and Google online services and apps and the market works out just significant is its 70% domination of the ‘voice’ for the smart home.

12. The wind blows from China in 2018 as it accelerates the Made in China 2025 project with short-term dividends for East Asian robot, memory chip and battery ahead of progress towards Chinese self-sufficiency 2020 and beyond.

Five companies that will surface on your radar in 2018

It’s been quite a year – we’ve briefed on cyber attacks, throttled internet networks, sex robots, bitcoin mania, the slow creep of AI and voice recognition, and increasingly how China is driving developments in high end industries such as batteries, chips and autonomous vehicles.

There are a string of companies that will be at the forefront of these stories. In speaking to subscribers to our paid research, we have identified five in particular.

These five companies will surface on professional radars this year. We think they will become vital cogs in an increasingly fragile, Ai and tech driven economy.

Get in touch if you would like to hear about these top five companies or any of my briefings over the last year: michael@signumintel.co.uk