“And is there no relief?” — “Othello: A Tragedy,” William Shakespeare

Yes, the Fearless Predictions column has returned for … what, its 15th (20th?) year of pointlessness. Speak up if you’ve heard these before.

Net Hostility

Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, etc., will be permitted to block or throttle any website that doesn’t pay premium fees. Are you nostalgic for the days of dial-up? You’ll soon be able to return to the pioneer days of the Internet.

However, fear not: Representatives of your chosen carrier will be calling to set an appointment for the installation of a coin slot on your computer for faster access. Credit/debit cards (and Bitcoins) also are happily accepted.

Google and Russia

Fact: Google has deranked the Russian propaganda sites Sputnik and RT (Russia Today), considering their content unreliable, and saying it was “working to curb misleading and exploitive material.” Russian telecom regulators have vowed to retaliate.
Prediction: People wanting this kind of information will have to go directly to Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

iPhone X

It’ll be replaced by iPhone XXX, which comes pre-programmed for porn channels, so besides facial recognition, it will have other recognition choices, as well.

The ‘Bit’ in Bitcoin

The “Bit” turns out to be “Bernie in Tulsa,” who came up with this idea while trying to find a way to pay his rent and has been riding the wave ever since. Next: HitCoins, created by “Hannibal in Trenton,” and suitable when you want to make someone an offer that they can’t refuse.

Driverless Cars

One from Google and one from Uber, will come to a four-way stop sign and never move, not wanting to cut someone off — thus being unable to make a decision to go. They will eventually be plowed out of the way by a driverless truck from Tesla.

Fact: PepsiCo has placed an order for 100 of Tesla’s “big rigs,” joining Walmart and Sysco in reserving electric trucks. They will be used primarily for delivery of snack foods from its Frito-Lay subsidiary, although they may move to heavier loads of sodas for shorter runs. Tesla trucks are expected to incorporate technology that will allow convoys of trucks to be controlled by one driver in the front.

Another Fact

GM is planning on joining the autonomous vehicle fray with a fleet of battery-powered Chevy Bolts that are being developed for ride-sharing service that will compete with Uber and Lyft. Its desired timeline is for deployment in larger cities in 2019, and they are being tested in San Francisco and Detroit. Unlike Uber’s first tests, the GM cars are not expected to have backup drivers; they will be remotely monitored, however.

GM is far from alone in this sector. Google and Ford are aiming for the same market, and Volvo has announced plans to supply Uber with 24,000 vehicles for driverless taxis, also expected on-street in 2019.

Prediction: The fact that these cars are programmed for conservative driving, such as obeying speed limits, will produce immense frustration in regular drivers who pull around them and want to flip off the driver — but find no driver to insult.

The Internet of Things

It will be revealed as, well, hype. Do we really need garage door openers that are connected to the Internet? Isn’t this just a way for hackers to get easily into your house? If your alarm is connected (and most are), they can disarm that, too, and turn on your stereo and TVs so they make sure they hear them all and don’t miss anything.

O.K., I’m being overzealous, but so are advocates of this technology. Samsung has made a very large deal about its remote assistant, Bixby, and how it can communicate with its new, $5,000 refrigerator with the built-in flat screen, and internal cameras that allow you to check your food supply. Really.

What is rarely talked about is how much this stuff costs and if it’s worth it. Remotely turning off your lights is nice, but what’s the cost of Internet-connected switches and a central controller?

This just highlights the divide between the tech freaks who simply must have this (and show it to you constantly) and normal people who want real reasons. The tech freaks also write for computer magazines and work hard to get their opinions in the business pages of your paper, making it all seem inevitable.
No, it’s not.

Alexa for Kids

Sales will plummet when kids start asking, “Where are Mommy and Daddy?” — and get an answer of “Mommy and Daddy just downloaded a very interesting movie to their bedroom TV, so you shouldn’t try to get their attention for a while.” Oops.

Cliff Feldwick is owner of Riverside Computing and does PC troubleshooting, network setups and data retrieval — when not hiding his midnight raids of his refrigerator from the cameras. (Not.) He can be reached at 410-880-0171 or at [email protected]. Older columns are online at http://feldwick.com.