Here are five things to expect over the next 12 months.
1. Your face will replace your password
For a decade, we’ve been wondering when a ‘Minority Report’-style facial-recognition service might arrive into the mainstream. With the arrival of Apple’s latest iPhoneX this moment may have finally come into being.
For those who missed it, Apple’s new technology uses facial recognition to do most of the work, such as unlocking your phone, downloading an app or paying for something in a shop. It works pretty flawlessly, both in brightness or in pitch darkness.
The company looks set to roll it out to other iPhones, iPads and Mac computers later this year. And where Apple introduces a feature that works, it is often adopted as a standard in wider society.
Is it the beginning of the end of passwords? Maybe.
For the moment, however, those uncomfortable with the idea can turn the technology off and still use a passcode on iPhones if they so choose.
2. You’ll be told more often when you’re hacked
Last year’s big EU tech law was the ban on mobile roaming fees in Europe. This year, it’s data privacy. From May, companies all across the EU will have to own up right away about being hacked or losing customer data.
If they don’t, or if they try to bury the leak in any way, they face fines of up to €20m or 4pc of annual turnover. This exercise in transparency should see fairly immediate improvements in data-security measures employed by services (online shops, banks, even government agencies) that you use regularly.
It also may create a rush of news around data breaches in the summer, giving an erroneous impression that 2018 is worse than previous years for companies screwing up your personal data.
The law, incidentally, is called the General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR).
3. You’ll see fewer TV satellite dishes in your estate or residential road
Sky, which is Ireland’s biggest commercial TV provider, has promised to let people get its Sky Q television service this year without the need for a satellite dish. Instead, you’ll be able to get it over broadband. That should ease tensions with local authorities in urban areas, which often ask residents to take the dishes down.
4. Expect a lot less hype over electric cars
It seems incredible that up until a few months ago Ireland had an official target of 200,000 electric cars on the road by 2020. As we move into 2018, it’s somewhere around 3,000 – a pathetic number.
Despite decent levels of marketing and investment from some of the car brands, Irish people can’t hack the low mileage limits or 45-minute refuelling sessions of plug-in vehicles.
It’s futile lecturing us that the majority of our car trips are under 50km – we simply like to know we can go longer if necessary – without a major planning exercise in refuelling strategy.
The poor performance of electric cars in Ireland is a shame as some of the new models from the likes of Nissan, Renault and BMW have much better, longer-running batteries.
The State has some responsibility here too, if it is serious about wanting fewer petrol and diesel cars on the road. Other countries have given drivers real incentives to make the switch. In Norway, electric cars get access to bus lanes and free parking in cities.
They also pay no road tolls. As a result, the Scandinavian country has some 135,000 electric cars on its roads, compared with 3,000 here. Both countries have roughly similar populations and levels of car ownership.
Meanwhile, virtually none of the vehicles purchased by Irish State bodies, institutes or agencies are electric. If Ireland wants more electric cars, it needs to make it happen, rather than hoping it will occur of its own accord.
5. Watch for growing pressure on Facebook
If 2017 saw tensions between governments and social media companies rise, 2018 could see them get even more uncomfortable. With so many people now using Facebook as a utility for news, communication and entertainment, its influence in our lives has reached unforeseen levels.
In Ireland alone, the online giant has 2.4 million adult users, 1.7 million of whom use it every single day. Each month that passes also sees the amount of time we spend on the service grow.
But with great power comes great responsibility. Civil authorities are now starting to lean on social networks to take more responsibility for things such as national security and online safety.
Separately, there is also some pressure on Facebook over quality control around the news sources being widely quoted on its platform. As users, what we might see this year is more activity from the company in filtering (or banning) links that friends try to share with you (or you with them).