As we really start to get into 2023, and the popping of champagne corks is replaced by the popping of hamstrings as people attempt to fulfil rashly-made New Year resolutions, it is a time to look forward.
After all, any fool can review the year just gone (and as anyone who read my last column can attest, at least one fool did). What can we expect of 2023? That is the really tricky question, and so I now present my bold predictions for the year ahead.
At the outset, of course, a disclaimer: it would be unwise for anyone to make any decisions, plans or bets based on these predictions. While they were all arrived at via a scientific process involving studying past years, reading newspapers, frowning thoughtfully like a politician flying over a natural disaster, and drinking wine, they are not perfect.
Probably the best way to treat these predictions is to think of them as similar to the policies political parties put forward in election campaigns – not so much an indication of what might happen, but more along the lines of complete bollocks. That said, if wild inaccuracy was a reason not to publish an article, my columns – and pretty much all political commentary in this country – would never have seen the light of day, so here we go!
At some point in 2023, we will reach ‘Peak Lawyer’, and every Australian will have a personal solicitor. Based on the fact that law schools across the country continue to produce graduates faster than the Sussexes produce gripes, it stands to reason that very soon there will be no jobs at law firms; clearly personal lawyer-valets are the inevitable outcome.
There is some probability science in this, as the ratio of lawyer-to-client has been evolving in this direction over time. My CEO recently pointed out to me that the lawyer-to-citizen ration had moved from 1:2710 in the 1960s, through 1:2638 in 1970, and now sits at about 1:354.1
A quick use of lawyer mathematics will show that the ratio of lawyers-per-person has reached node lambda2 and, if unchecked, will lead to lawyers taking over the world. This is why evolution developed ChatGPT.
Kevin Rudd, in his new role as Australian ambassador to the US, will goad America into a war with Australia; fortunately, disaster will be averted when Joe Biden mistakenly declares war against Atlantis.3 Sometime last year, Prime Minister Albanese was looking for someone to be a main liaison with our most important strategic ally. He decided, possibly after an early Christmas tipple and a reasonably serious knock to the head, that Kevin Rudd was the man for the job.
This was no doubt based on Rudd’s past diplomatic efforts, which reached their height when, in an attempt to smooth relations with China, our biggest trading partner, the then PM channelled his inner bikie and made comments so offensive that even Prince Harry wouldn’t have claimed that royal staff had made them about his wife (Prince Harry’s wife, that is, not Kevin Rudd’s wife).
Amazingly this did not help relations at all, and it is probably at this time that patriotic Chinese bats, clearly without the knowledge of the government,4 developed COVID.
True to form, after his announcement as ambassador, Rudd moved quickly to get things off on the right foot by saying that America wasn’t much of a friend and in fact would never let anyone else have a go on the swing, so war seems almost inevitable.
Anthony Albanese will spend three straight weeks on Australian soil. Actually, that can’t be right, I’ll check it and get back to you.
The rise of AI will trigger the long-prophesied Butlerian Jihad,5 but not by taking away the jobs of lawyers or anyone else. Instead, humans will rise up against the machines, having been driven mad (the humans, not the machines) by interacting with AI-powered customer service lines.
I base this prediction on my recent experience with the customer support of a particular telco; to avoid embarrassing them, let’s call them ‘Tel Someone That Cares’, or ‘Telstca’ for short. I had to contact Telstca because our NBN modem had stopped working, meaning my kids were about to revert to ‘Lord of the Flies’ mode, and sacrifice me to the digital gods in the hope that the Wi-Fi would come back on.
I knew the modem was broken because the NBN technician that Telstca sent out told me it was. This lead to the following conversation between me and either a chatbot or a person so boring and deadpan as makes no difference:
Me: I need a new modem, the one I have is broken and the Wi-Fi doesn’t work anymore.
Customer service person/bot: Please be patient while I test your modem.
Me: It won’t work, it is broken.
CSPB: What colour are the lights on your modem?
Me: The lights are not on, the modem is broken.
CSPB: Please wait while I test your modem.
CSPB (after a couple of minutes): Your modem is broken, it will not work.
Me: Thank Crom6 I called you. I think I need a new one.
CSPB (after some further testing): You will need a new one.
Me: Can I take the old one in to a Telstca shop and swap it for a new one? They have new ones in there, I have seen them.
CSPB: No, I will send you a new one, it will come in three to five business days.
Me: # $ % &#% ! * &#% ! @?!!! My kids will burn me in a &#% Wicker Man! (Translation: Excuse me, but that appears a rather unreasonable and sub-optimal outcome, are you sure? My children will not be pleased).
CSPB: I’m sorry, I don’t understand ‘#, $, %, &#% ! * &#% ! @?!!! ‘
Me: (maniacal Joker-style laughter escalating towards a disturbingly high pitch…).
The ongoing Robodebt inquiry will reveal that the entire Morrison government was run by a beta version of ChatGPT, which at least explains the surprisingly effective response to the pandemic. Under questioning, former PM Scott Morrison will note, “Hey mate, I don’t hold a modem”, and point out that artificial intelligence is the only kind there is in Canberra; counsel assisting the inquiry will no doubt concede the point.
Anthony Albanese will publicly condemn the entire situation, then ask Scott Morrison on the quiet if ChatGPT also does policy.
Joe Biden will run again for President, thrilling voters when he utters the stirring and immortal words, “I, Joe DiMaggio, am honoured to again run for President of these United Arab Emirates”.
Despite my best efforts, someone out there will take some of this the wrong way, and write eloquent, outrage-filled emails to my Editor. Sorry John!
Finally, I predict a happy, healthy and prosperous year for all my readers. Actually, that is more of a wish than a prediction, but of all these predictions it is the one I want to come true the most (although the Robodebt one would be pretty cool too). Good luck in 2023!
© Shane Budden 2023
1 I’d like to think he was just raising an interesting point and not giving me a subtle hint.
2 No, me neither.
3 When he is advised that Atlantis doesn’t exist, he will replay “Damn, that was quick! Can we do the same thing to China?”
4 The Chinese Government that is, not the bat government; obviously the bat government knew.
5 Note to the perpetually offended: this is a reference to a classic science fiction novel, and has nothing to do with any real religion or history on Earth; if you don’t know which novel, shame on you.
6 Conan’s god, who holds the riddle of steel; but you knew that.