We can all agree 2017 was a tough year. We were bombarded by stories about bad actors, political crises, and natural and man-made tragedies. It’s easy to get down. But as the year comes to a close, I’m taking time out to appreciate the good in the world.
This week, when I’m sitting down for dinner with my family, I’ll be thankful for these 17 things that happened in 2017:
Technology & Science:
1. The solar eclipse was amazing.
For most of us, seeing a full solar eclipse is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. On August 21, we got to step outside and experience the awesome powers of the universe.
2. Artificial Intelligence took a major leap forward.
In May Google DeepMind announced its AlphaGo AI beat the world’s top player in a complex strategy game called Go. It taught itself to win and planned as many as 50 moves in advance. Why does it matter? An AI that can think with this degree of complexity could help us solve humanity’s biggest problems, including curing cancer.
3. Garbage is being put to good use.
A company called VolkerWessels is collecting plastic bottles from the ocean and compressing it into bricks to make roads in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. PlasticRoad lasts three times longer than conventional road structures.
4. Solar roof tops are cool now.
In May Tesla introduced a new kind of solar rooftop made of tempered glass. They look just like non-solar slate or clay roof tiles, they’re stronger, and they’re about 20% more affordable than traditional roof tiles.
5. We’re one step closer to becoming the Bionic Man.
Ford and Ekso Bionics are making it easier to do difficult, dangerous jobs, by offering factory workers the EksoVest — a small exoskeleton you strap on for your shift, and easily take off. It could also be used to help disabled people regain mobility.
6. The stock market hit an all-time high.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average is currently well over 23,000, which it hit in October. It’s hard to remember the crash in late ’08 that took the Dow down around 7,000 in January ‘09.
7. The IPO market is showing signs of life.
In Silicon Valley, the IPO market dictates strategic decisions at every step of the food chain. Other than Snap and Blue Apron, most of this year’s IPOs are performing pretty well, including the latest one: SendGrid (NYSE:SEND).
8. Venture capital is going strong.
9. People have jobs and they’re feeling good about spending.
10. TV was awesome.
We all need a way to decompress. HBO’s Game of Thrones, Netflix’s Stranger Things, and Freeform’s Pretty Little Liars were big hits in my house (no, my wife and I are not teenagers, and yes, I’m embarrassed to admit we watch this).
11. Snow leopards are no longer endangered.
We’re still doing plenty of damage to the planet, but we got one thing right this year: Snow leopards are no longer on the endangered list!
12. We’re getting more Star Wars.
Disney’s Lucasfilm announced in November that they’re backing a new trilogy by the director and writer of The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson. We’re also getting new characters.
13. The Warriors won.
I’m from New York but now that California is home, I’m proud to say that the Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in July and won yet another NBA Championship.
14. People are more generous.
According to Giving USA 2017, people gave a record amount of $390 million last year. Considering the increased civic engagement and record-breaking hurricanes and fires of 2017, I expect that will increase.
15. [?]’m glad Apple fixed the autocorrect bug.
After spending weeks doing workarounds to avoid typing the letter “i” on our iphones, Apple delivered the iOS 11.1.1 update, which killed the bug that auto“corrected” incorrectly.
16. I escaped from Alcatraz.
I love to swim and this year I pushed myself to train for a new challenge: The Sharkfest race from Alcatraz to San Francisco. It was like swimming through liquid ice, but the personal satisfaction meter was off the charts.
17. I became a dad
This won’t matter to you but it was a life-changer for me: This summer, my wife, Camila, and I had our first child: a boy named Miguel. That gift, alone, makes 2017 my best year ever!
What were your 17 favorite things about 2017? Let me know @mikegfarley #GoodStuff2017.