(4) What Summer 2024 Has In Store

notion image
On Thursday, the Northern Hemisphere celebrates the summer solstice. It’s hard to believe we’re already six months into the year. So much has happened, and so much more will. Axios is calling it the Summer of Never Before.
Given this milestone, I thought it would be worth looking at what this Summer has in store for us and looking back at what has already happened. I started putting together a list of all that happened in the last six months, and it is long. So rather than try to capture everything, let’s just look at some of the highlights:
  1. We had elections in numerous countries, including Taiwan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Mexico, South Africa and the European Union. All eyes were on how AI would be used and abused. While there were some examples, they weren’t nearly as widespread as feared.
  1. Twenty tech companies signed an AI elections accord in Munich, promising to fight deceptive AI in elections in 2024.
  1. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, “In the 2024 legislative session, at least 40 states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Washington, D.C., introduced AI bills, and six states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands adopted resolutions or enacted legislation.”
  1. The European Union adopted an AI act.
  1. The United States passed a bill to effectively ban TikTok unless they divest from Chinese ownership. The company is fighting it in court.
  1. The Supreme Court heard arguments in the NetChoice and Murthy v Missouri cases.
  1. A former President of the United States was found guilty of committing a crime.
Now, let’s look at what the next few months hold.
  1. The Supreme Court is due to release decisions for NetChoice and Murthy as soon as tomorrow (June 20) or push it back. These decisions could radically change expectations for online platforms going into the U.S. elections.
  1. What they decide will also impact Rep. Jim Jordan's and others' efforts to pursue work by researchers who study the information environment. They are celebrating the news that Stanford’s Internet Observatory is shutting down. However, while they may have won that particular battle, the Court is posed to rule against them, which will take a lot more wind out of their sails.
  1. The UK and French elections could be a leading indicator for the U.S. Let’s remember how 2016 unfolded. Looking back, it was the Philippines election in May of that year, the surprise Brexit result, and Trum’s win in the US. I think the outcomes of these two elections, plus Modi’s less-than-stellar performance in India, might give us some signals of where the world is trending.
  1. The debate between Biden and Trump on June 27th will also give us an indicator of where things stand. Never before has a general election debate been held that early. How each candidate shows up will set the tone through the conventions.
  1. While unlikely, a small percentage of me prepares for drama at conventions. There could be protests or violence at both, especially since Netanyahu will address Congress on July 24, a few weeks before the Democratic convention in Chicago. Depending on what he says and what happens in Israel/Palestine, I’d keep an eye on this for the Dem side. For Republicans, Trump will be sentenced right before their convention in Milwaukee in June. A lot of unknowns to be heading into major events.
    1. I also still think there is a chance - granted, a very, very small one - that we come out of the conventions with either Trump or Biden not being the nominee.
    2. Keep an eye on the influencers throughout the election - but especially at the conventions. The Biden campaign is going hard after them - including a recent conversation President Obama joined President Biden at with 80 content creators at a recent fundraiser - and I’ll be curious if they get special access that other, more traditional reporters don’t. I’ve already heard some rumblings from that they are not too happy about this situation, and I’m curious when it will boil over. Some are also predicting we’ll see more online fundraising using influencers.
  1. Tech-wise, we have TrustCon in July, an annual gathering of Trust and Safety professionals in San Francisco. Many discussions will be on AI and Elections (together and separately). AI platforms will be under harsher scrutiny for their handling of political content - with some sticking to their stated plans of not returning results for anything election-related while others will lean in more. Companies who try to run will find they can’t hide. TikTok already has to clarify its political ad rules and Meta will continue to be under fire for how it handles political content on Instagram and Threads. Unlike ever before, WhatsApp will also be a major player in the U.S. election, and they have less clear election rules than others.
    1. Whether you are in tech or not, Edelman’s latest has a stark warning for any corporate executive hoping they can just keep their heads down this election, “The immediate reaction by marketers might be to put your head down and let the storm pass. That would be exactly the wrong strategy. The question is not how to avoid politics but how to navigate the present complexity to your advantage. Not every brand needs to have an impact or purpose initiative but consider how politicization can abruptly color consumer perceptions.”
  1. Finally, we have a woefully under-reported story about how the Internet's governance could change this year and next. A series of events in 2024 will lead to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in May 2025. China has proposed a series of proposals that would take Internet governance from multistakeholder to entirely governmental. The National Democratic Institute (NDI) has a good primer on this.
Certainly, there is no rest for the weary, though I am going to try. On Friday, most of my family and I will be heading to Smoothrock Lake in Canada to go walleye and northern pike fishing. I’ve got some newsletters cued up. I may take July 3 off, but I haven’t decided yet. It sort of depends on whether the Court issues a ruling and if anything interesting is happening in the UK.
Don’t forget during all of this to take care of yourself! Summers are meant to be time to have fun and rest after all. ☀️ 🏖️ 🏕️
Please support the curation and analysis I’m doing with this newsletter. As a paid subscriber, you make it possible for me to bring you in-depth analyses of the most pressing issues in tech and politics.