We may already be knee-deep in 2023, but anything can happen between now and the end of the year. Let’s consider some of the possibilities, based on predictions by prophets, soothsayers, and some rather more down-to-earth sources.
A great war?
Nostradamus, whose visionary quatrains have intrigued (and disturbed) the world for generations, warns us of ‘seven months great war, people dead through evil’. Since the Ukraine conflict has far exceeded that time frame, some are concerned the ‘seven months great war’ refers to an even bigger and deadlier confrontation.
Just as alarming is another Nostradamus snippet where he writes of the bloody consequences of ‘an agreement broken’, which might foresee a peace treaty being violated with terrible consequences.
The 20th century Bulgarian soothsayer Baba Vanga also had dark intuitions of our time. Some interpreters of her visions believe she predicted that a ‘big country’ would deploy biological weapons – a thought as disturbing as it is feasible.
When the Cold War ended in the late 20th century, many pundits believed we had reached ‘the end of history’. The political scientist Francis Fukuyama famously wrote that humankind had finally evolved beyond the ideological extremes of communism and fascism, with liberal democracy the last viable system left standing.
But decades on from the fall of the Soviet Union, things look far more polarised than commentators could have imagined. Russian aggression, widespread talk of a new Cold War between the West and China, and the shocking resurgence of far-right thinking on social media have all created a febrile political atmosphere.
Will things get rockier in 2023? Well, let’s look at the Chinese zodiac. We’re currently in the Year of the Water Rabbit, which hasn’t come around for quite a while. In fact, the last time was 1963, the year which witnessed the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Might a similarly cataclysmic political event take place in our Year of the Water Rabbit?
The prospect of greater political turbulence looms so large that even AI has warned that we’re in for a bumpy ride. When, late last year, the Futurist Think Tank asked ChatGPT to provide predictions for 2023, the AI bot replied that ‘shifting geopolitical power from west to east will be a major issue in 2023’, causing increased competition for power and resources. Oh, and that ‘conflict and civil war will continue to be a problem’.
It’s appropriate that ChatGPT has been demonstrating potential soothsaying skills, given that 2023 will be the year that AI changes everything. Many industrialists regard our time as a tipping point, with venture capitalist Emmet King calling AI ‘the sort of technological paradigm shift that has the potential to transform on a scale beyond even the rise of mobile’.
A survey by Deloitte recently revealed that over 50% of organisations are planning to incorporate AI in 2023. The impact will be felt everywhere – even in healthcare, where, as tech entrepreneur Phil Tee has said: ‘AI will yield tremendous breakthroughs in treating medical conditions'.
It remains to be seen how the mass disruption of AI will impact industries, stocks and jobs. Generally, though, economists agree that financial turbulence will continue. What’s more, astrologers and prophets concur.
Nostradamus alluded to our surging living costs, writing ‘so high will the bushel of wheat rise that man will be eating his fellow man’. And, speaking to CNN about the significance of the Year of the Water Rabbit, astrology and feng shui expert Thierry Chow has emphasised that digital and tech firms are seen as ‘fire industries’, and may therefore suffer in 2023 because ‘fire is afraid of water’.
The climate crisis is already upon us, but will we see stark disasters this year? Unsurprisingly, Nostradamus had something to say about this, writing that ‘the dry earth will grow more parched’ even as ‘great floods’ are seen elsewhere.
Meanwhile, his modern counterpart Baba Yanga warned of even more apocalyptic natural disasters, including a solar storm that might erupt on the surface of the Sun and trigger magnetic storms with the potential to wreck the world’s power grids.
Exactly such a thing happened back in 1859, in what’s remembered as the Carrington Event. Such an occurrence today, in a world utterly dependent on technology, would be of an order of magnitude greater. A newly published paper on space weather by research scientists Natalia Buzulukova and Bruce Tsurutani warns, ‘the threats and risks are not hypothetical, and in the event of extreme Space Weather events the consequences could be quite severe for humankind’.
A fashion for blackened teeth?
After all doom and gloom, let’s end on a lighter note. Or, rather, a darker one, as one future-facing fashionista has confidently predicted that in 2023 people will ‘pronounce it the height of style in personal primping to blacken their teeth’.
Fortunately, this bizarre prediction was made, not by some TikTok influencer, but by a newspaper journalist back in 1923. It was one of several century-old predictions recently unearthed and posted by American researcher Paul Fairie in a viral Twitter thread.
Other gems Fairie found included an assurance that women everywhere will be shaving their heads, that ‘by the year 2023 gasoline as a motive power will have been replaced by radio', and ‘beauty contests will be unnecessary as there will be so many beautiful people that it will be almost impossible to select winners’.
In an age of super-realistic social media filters and deep fake tech, maybe that last one isn’t so wide of the mark.