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Opinion: My wish list for 2018 and beyond

Opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of S&P Global Market Intelligence.

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Blogger Bishop Cheen is a
retired managing director
and senior analyst for
Wells Fargo Securities.

Welcome to my favorite perennial post, where I share some wishes that might make our new year better than the one we leave behind. While nothing tops my eternal hope trio of health, peace and prosperity, for 2018 I wish ...

... Social media will keep evolving so we have more "@me too" or "@Houstonstrong" consciousness moments and less fake news chaos and confusion. I suspect there are not any fool-proof algorithms that can tell truth from fiction or quarantine sketchy people with bad intentions, but the more we engage in meaningful sharing of human experiences by real people, the more uplifting and empowering our social media will become.

... Net neutrality morphs into net reality. Given the inherent economic conflict between content creators and distributors, there was never really much neutrality in the way the players interacted with each other, or with us, the users. The internet has become a marketplace, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

The regulatory approach has been to either govern the internet like a public utility, or to deregulate it as a free enterprise institution. The internet is both, so it's tough to see the purity of purpose in either camp — those in favor of or opposed to Obama/Wheeler-era regulations. Ultimately, I think the economic model has to become a metered service based on a cost-per-bit. Heavy gamers or 4K streamers should pay more. Casual browsers engaged in shopping or research should not have to pay an extra toll. If distribution abuses do emerge, such as limited access to websites outside of a provider's chosen clan, I believe there are enough regulatory tools in place to herd the malevolent or greedy offenders back in line. Let's give the latest regulatory reformation a shot and see what happens.

... My wireless carrier will not get mad at me when I slow down my payments. If Apple Inc. can slow down service on older iPhones to protect fragile battery life, why can't I slow down my payments for some oldies I own or support. Like most boomers, my adult children have found a way to stick me with their wireless bills. Of course, they have the latest models while my wife and I are three or four releases behind. Ever in pursuit of social justice, I think I have a right to age my account a bit because some of my devices are not so new and shiny ... just like me.

... Earnings calls become more meaningful and efficient. Today's corporate posers could teach politicians a thing or two about smoke and mirrors. I do not need to spend an hour being spun by nervous executives who spend most of the call reading the earnings release and then waxing on about all sorts of stuff that doesn't have much to do with earnings or balance sheets. Just pre-release the key stats, please and not just GAAP numbers. Pro forma numbers are also helpful, as long they come with the data that connects the dots. Please do not deluge me with a zillion other useless metrics. Corporate execs could do the summary in 10 minutes, tops, leaving the rest of the call for Q&A. My experience is the longer they chatter on, the weaker the earnings.

... Hackers, scammers, cyber crooks, trolls and such the same dark fates I have been wishing them for years. And this year I am extending my venom to porch pirates. (Don't get me started.) But we do need to get a lot smarter about cybersecurity, including the new wave of interactive toys that invite the digital underworld into our homes.

... Smart speakers will be good role models for our kids. It's a little freaky that these speakers can record and upload conversations to the cloud as part of the intended artificial intelligence program to make the devices smarter. Beyond that, they do not encourage good manners. We do not have to say "please" or "thank you" when telling Alexa or her digital speaker friends to do something. And what about the message we are sending our children about instant gratification in this increasingly on-demand-and-my-command world? Perhaps smart speakers can be programmed to stall now and then.

I thank you for your readership, and occasional comments or corrections. Please keep them coming. Happy New Year, everyone. May all your wishes come true.