SUZANNE HARRINGTON: If the asteroid doesn’t get us, killer robots will

Just one more night and everything will all go back to normal. Introverts, humbugs and knackered livers can exhale, for the seasonal hullabaloo is drawing to a close. But what is normal in 2019? What can we expect? It appears Brexit will be the least of it. Should we get bunker building?

If the asteroid currently travelling towards us at 8 miles per second doesn’t smash us to space dust on February 1 (which, on the plus side, means we get to skip Valentine’s Day), we can look forward the population reaching 7,678,174,000 — I counted — and the launch of fully autonomous wasp-sized surveillance drones with teeny weeny cameras watching our every move, gathering data. Cute, eh?

Less cute are LARS, set to move from science fiction to science fact any minute now. Lethal Autonomous Robots will replace soldiers in war zones; they don’t need paying, feeding, counselling for PTSD, and don’t have families that require pensions.

The only downer is that killer robots can’t really tell the difference between enemy combatants and civilian children on their way to school, but never mind

It’s all progress. Just don’t expect any public announcements about their launch.

Closer to home — far too close, frankly — is a new strain of untreatable gonorrhea. It mutates faster than the drugs designed to treat it, and has popped up in UK, France, Spain and Japan. Woo! Something to consider if the asteroid doesn’t get us, or the killer robots.

Obviously, it’s not all doom and gloom. Well, it is — the ratio of plastic to fish in our seas has now tipped the wrong way — but let’s not think about that. Think about Star Wars IX instead, which will be released this year. Save up for a bionic eye lens, which will replace regular boring old human eyes with vision that is three times stronger than 20x20 — we can all be Terminators now. And self-driving cars will be legalised in the EU — no more taxis home from the pub.

What could possibly go wrong? (Um. Am thinking of how a single drone shut the UK’s second busiest airport for 30 hours the week before Christmas, but to worry about robots taking over every aspect of our daily lives is probably a bit luddite, a bit backward. Isn’t it?).

Let’s move from the science-based facts for a moment and check the predictions of a Macedonian mystic, stage name Baba Vanga. Although deceased since 1996, she predicted the rise of Islamic State, 9/11, and Brexit. Allegedly. (Come on, you think I fact check this stuff?).

Her predictions for 2019 include the collapse of the EU economy, a meteorite hitting Russia (it’s unclear whether this is any relation of the asteroid due to decimate us in February), and Donald Trump falling ill.

Oh, and a member of Putin’s own security team attempting to kill him.

So a busy year ahead, even if you’re not Russian. Dust off your gilets jaunes, people. Happy new year!


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