New Year 2021 🎆

Martin Thoma
Dec 31, 2020 · 6 min read

It’s new years eve and — as always — I try to finish some things and have some plans for next year.

Review of 2020

The year 2020 was crazy. It was mainly dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, but also by much crazy news by Trump / from the US. There were also bushfires in Australia and California, the Atlantic Hurricane season, the Pacific typhoon season, a locust infestation in East Africa, severe floods in Jakarta. Oh, and there was Brexit, the Killing of George Floyd, and the Wirecard Scandal. It was an exhausting year.

There were also positive things in 2020:

  • Climate Change: Due to COVID-19 we had lockdowns. Due to the lockdowns, we got a 7% reduction in CO2 emissions. Some of those effects might be permanent: More people taking bikes, more people working from home.
  • Air Quality: Also due to the lockdowns, the air quality in cities improved.
  • Renewable Energy: New renewable energy capacity hit a record.
  • Fighting Diseases: Africa is free of wild polio. Also, I think the many vaccines we developed to fight SARS-CoV-2 are quite a success story.
  • AI development: GPT-3 and AlphaFold 2 directly pop to my mind.
  • Movies, Series, and YouTube: Most major productions were not released in 2020. I remember that I’ve watched a lot of Jane the Virgin with my girlfriend, but I’m not super excited about it. The Jordan Peterson interview was pretty interesting. The guest is calm, makes his points very well, speaks up when he is (purposely) misunderstood. The interviewer tackles hard the potential flaws of the argument. She does not try to make this nice but instead tries to get interesting answers. I’ve discovered and like the TierZoo channel.
  • Books: I liked Martha Well’s “The Murderbot Diaries” and Trudy Canavan’s “Millennium’s Rule”.
  • Breakthroughs: MIP*=RE, Conway Knot Problem

Personally, I can see some stats going up:

  • I have 85,272 points (+16,629) on StackOverflow and reached 37.5 million people (+7.6 million) with my posts. (source)
  • I wrote 73 articles for my blog. Of those, 55 were published on Medium. I’ve got some experience with the various publications. It’s quite fun!
  • My engagement for Wikipedia Commons stopped. I wasn't even aware of it, before I compared my current edit/upload count with stats from last year.
  • I did A LOT for open source projects this year. It was mostly a bit behind the scenes, supporting smaller projects and people with learning how to write good code and how to make packages for Python. I’ve created flake8-simplify and applied it to openshot-qt, openpyxl-stubs, munch-stubs, Flask-HTTP-stubs, puremagic, fbro. I supported biopython, and ported the related package propy3 to Python 3.

From my perspective, the most interesting articles I wrote this year are:

Old Year Resolutions

  • Bouldering: Get comfortable with blue (5b to 6a+) and do at least 10 orange ones (6a+ to 6c)
  • ❌ Create a GAN for my HASYv2 dataset — again, I didn’t do it 😢
  • ❌ Enzado: I had many ideas for an online course website. I actually developed something that worked, but it had too many rough edges. Another problem was missing content. I had some ideas, but not enough time to do it myself. I’m now trying to get more people interested and involved in this topic with schule-online.rocks

Old Year Predictions

Let’s see where I was right and where I was wrong.

  1. ✅ Lithium-Ion will not have any contender for smartphones. — There were a couple of interesting improvements, though!
  2. ❌ Python 2 will still be around (despite pythonclock.org, py3readiness, python3statement) — although it’s still around, I see many teams and projects switch to Python 3. Nice!
  3. ✅ No real, unrestricted self-driving cars which ordinary people can buy (e.g. less than 300k USD and on the open market) on the road (despite this and many more claims)
  1. ❌ I will write at least 10 articles around sustainability / reducing waste / climate change — I think I didn’t write a single one 🙈
  2. ✅ I will run 6.1 km (Distance of B2Run) in less than 30 minutes — due to COVID-19, I couldn’t participate in an official run. But I did improve here again.
  3. ❌ I will reduce my weight from 69 kg currently to 64 kg — nope, still at 69 kg. Pretty stable also.
  4. ❌ I will live 350 days meat-free (seafood is ok) — I’ve reduced my meat consumption, but I definitely ate meat more than 15 times in 2020.
  1. ✅ Germany will still produce more than 400 Mt CO2 and thus fail the climate targets (2017 it was 906 Mt, source) — It’s sad, but I was right (source).
  2. ✅ At least 3 wildfires will burn more than 100,000 ha — 18.6 Mio ha in Australia, 116,000 ha near Chernobyl, 1.7 million ha in California.
  3. ✅ The impeachment of Trump will not bring him into prison.
  4. ✅ Trump will be the Republican candidate.
  5. ❌ Sanders will be the Democratic candidate — Biden was.
  6. ✅ Democrats will win the election.

Predictions for 2021

  1. German Federal Election: I expect the conservatives (CDU/CSU) to reach at least 35% (it was 32.9% in 2017). The social-democratic party SPD will not have more than 18% (20.5% in 2017). The greens will get more than 15% (8.9% in 2017).
  2. The Stock Market: I expect the S&P 500 to end between 4030 and 4180 points (+8% to +12% in 2021)
  3. Unemployment: This will be a severe issue in many European countries and the US.
  1. Battery Technology: I expect to see more improvements. One way to prove this would be a Smartphone (< 7" display size) with 5500mAh or more. The Galaxy S20 Ultra has 5000mAh and the iPhone 11 Pro Max has 3969mAh. Another way to see it would be a car with at least 600 km range. The Tesla Model 3 has a range of 568km in the most extreme configuration.
  2. Self-driving Cars: Again, I expect that no self-driving car will be on German streets (except for test drives with a driver who is responsible in the seat)
  3. Neural Network Size: Neural Networks already became crazy big. T-NLG hat 17 billion parameters (source). GPT-3 has 175 billion parameters. I expect to see a 200 billion parameter model in 2021.
  4. Bitcoin: It reaches a new all-time high at 30,000 EUR. It's at 23,800 EUR per Bitcoin at the moment.
  1. I will create a GAN for my HASYv2 dataset … finally 😅
  2. I will fix issue #13 of flake8-simplify
  3. I will have a Social Media free month. No TikTok, no Reddit. I’m not using Facebook anyway. Twitter only for sharing blog posts.

New Year Resolutions

  1. Run 20km. I don’t want to set a time limit here … I guess it will be running 10km and walking the rest 😅
  2. Go on at least 6 hikes
  3. Get back to bouldering. 10 orange ones (6a+ to 6c) this year — and go with a friend climbing outside.

What I want for 2021

My news bubble was dominated by crazy stuff from the US, Brexit, and western states completely ignoring how Asian states solved the issue. I want to see more cooperation. We need it to fight climate change.

It would be super cool to see some breakthroughs in regards to battery technology or usage. Not necessarily for smartphones or cars, but maybe for energy reserve like the Hornsdale Power Reserve.

It would be absolutely amazing to see breakthroughs in Nuclear fusion ⚡

Finally, I would be super happy to see new applications of 3D printing, distributed ledger technology (the blockchain), or Carbon nanotubes.

It’s possible to 3D print metal, cells, and food.

Carbon nanotubes were used to create super black materials. It has a crazy amount of potential applications.

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Martin Thoma

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I’m a Software Engineer with focus on Security, Data Science, and ML. I have over 10 years of experience with Python. https://www.linkedin.com/in/martin-thoma/

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