The Register's Australian technology headline predictions … for 2017!

Peering into the future through a crystal beer glass ... and finding a 'perfect' NBN rollout

December is the time when vendors' Australian outposts try to position their managing directors as sages and oracles, and rain down predictions on El Reg's antipodean outpost.

Vulture South trashes them all promptly, secures supplies of amber fluid and starts thinking a year further ahead, to the year after next.

After due cogitation let us therefore present our future technology news headlines for 2017!

Australian Labor Party ponders anti-automation agenda

The technologies that make self-driving cars or automated essay marking possible are a big threat to lots of jobs, especially working class jobs. In 2017 Australia's left-of-centre Labor Party will start to make noises about protecting jobs from destruction by automation.

The position may not be entirely coherent, because in 2017 the newly re-elected Turnbull government will still be using a Silicon-Valley-inspired STEM-and-startups plan as its industry policy. Labor won't want to go against that grain, but will at least start to flag the need for a conversation about what automation does to the wider economy.

The NBN runs perfectly on time and on budget

According to revised timetables dredged from a contingency plan referred to in a footnote in an appendix to a corporate plan, Australia's national broadband network will be rolling out on time, on budget, while delivering world-leading speeds to subscribers.

Meanwhile, in the real world … fibre to the node rollouts will be stuttering, partly because of decrepit copper. Initial DOCSIS 3.1 rollouts will disappoint as network designs fail to overcome contention issues. will remain on the roadmap, rather than offering real hope of gigabit-over-copper. Costs will increase and the project will become a millstone about the neck of prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, who just won't be able to bring himself to admit that the multi-technology-mix plan is throwing good money after bad as Australia replaces copper with copper for entirely political reasons.

Whip It good, BYOD bad

Very small form factor PCs – think Intel's Compute Stick and Chromebits – and ideas like Microsoft's Project Continuum phone-as-PC will change the bring your own device caper.

Come 2017 we'll start to hear about something I call BYOD Whip It.

Bring Your Own Device, We Provide The Screen. BYOD Whip It.

Geddit? And not just for you DEVO fans, okay?

The screen might be behind thick glass in an enhanced school desk. In the office, it could be a dock.

It works in both situations because kids keep breaking their BYOD devices' screens. A simple, rugged PC that kids can ear on a lanyard then plug in when needed is a nice alternative to laptops. Cheaper PCs will win more favour from parents.

In business, BYOD Whip It will appeal because the devices are cheap enough that you can give one to a worker and be satisfied the machine or smartphone is properly locked down, unpolluted by games. If workers want to work from home, let them plug into to their own screen and keyboard.

The best thing? Sysadmins can tell millennials where to shove their subsidised BYOD MacBooks.

STEM replaced by STEAM

In 2017 we'll start to see the STEM acronym – for Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths – replaced by STEAM.

The A is for Arts, and will come into vogue as educators and policy-makers realise that technology for its own sake is all very well, but technology as a servant and enabler of creativity in all fields is even more desirable.

Multinational technology vendors raise prices as tax laws change

Australia's new laws forcing multinationals to pay tax in the nation where sales are actually made will come into force and vendors will respond by putting up prices. Microsoft's admission before a Parliamentary inquiry that it charges what the market will bear is the key here: vendors will jack up prices because they can, and dissemble pitifully about the reasons.

The weakening Australian dollar may provide some cover for that dissembling, but the Australian public will be in no doubt it's being taxed to cover the taxes that erode profits.

Uber will be among those raising prices, as Australia's federal and State governments bicker over how to regulate the company. States will say that legalising Uber was a worthwhile transport reform. The Feds will grudgingly acknowledge this, but grumble they've had a stinker of a tax situation dumped in their lap.

Hip smartphone maker emerges from India and Indonesia, invoking unjustifiable Apple comparisons

India and Indonesia are both mandating more electronics are made at home, policy that will give rise to chatter about a company that is to each nation what Xiaomi is to China.

The phones just won't be that good, the hype will be over-the-top and Apple will still coin it.

Department of Human Services payments project blows out, bigtime

Australia's government has budgeted a billion dollars to replace the Department of Human Services' payment systems. Those systems are decades-old and have Lord alone knows how many lines of code and Lord alone knows how many kludges and kinks.

By 2017 it will be apparent that a billion bucks barely scratches the surface of what's required to rebuild them in a cloudy configuration. Cue outrage and red faces as the government scrambles to find the cash required to get it right, before years of hiccups and messes make further problems a staple of this annual column.

What do you think Australia can expect in 2017? Make a comment or write to me with your suggestions.

And one last thing: here's our predictions for 2015. We think we got three of them right. ®

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