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24 things we think will happen in 2024

From Trump to Tesla, how 2024 will shake out, according to the Future Perfect team.

An illustrated “2024” is seen through a binocular field of view. Paige Vickers/Vox

It was either the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Niels Bohr or Hall of Fame New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra (or, quite possibly, neither of them) who coined the phrase: “Predictions are hard to make, especially about the future.”

Nonetheless, for the fifth year in a row, the staff of Future Perfect will venture its best estimations of what major news events will or won’t take place in 2024. Will Donald Trump return to the White House? Will OpenAI release ChatGPT-5? Will antibiotic sales for farmed animals increase? Will inflation continue to moderate? Will Oppenheimer win Best Picture? (It would have Bohr’s vote, if he were a member of the Academy and if he were alive.)

But we don’t just make blind predictions. In keeping with the best practices of forecasters, we attach probabilities to each of our predictions. Pay attention to the probabilities! 80 percent, or even 90 percent, does not mean we are certain an event will definitely happen. (If we were, we would say 100 percent.) Rather, it means that if we made five predictions or 10 predictions, we’d expect four or nine of them to come true, respectively.

And as we have every year, we’ll be keeping track of how we do in 2024 and letting you know our performance. (You can check out how we did in 2023 here.) —Bryan Walsh

The United States

Donald Trump will return to the White House (55 percent)

Predicting a presidential race a year out is tough. As political scientists Robert Erikson and Christopher Wlezien have noted, “polls from the beginning of the election year have virtually no predictive power” when it comes to calling presidential races. People still respond to the state of the economy the year the election is held and the new facts they learn about the candidates as campaigns progress.

A better approach than using polling is to reference some of the forecasting models political scientists have developed for predicting elections in advance. But many of these rely on data that’s only available mid-year, like presidential approval ratings or economic growth in the first half of the year.

The one exception is a model from political scientist Jay DeSart, which does state-by-state predictions of outcomes based on prior voting habits of the state and the national polling average in October of the year prior to the election. I plugged October 2023’s head-to-head Biden/Trump polls into the model and found that it predicts a healthy Trump victory (297 electoral votes to 241), with the median forecast seeing Biden lose Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin but hang on to Michigan.

Trump stands at a podium and speaks energetically into a microphone, pointing a finger at the crowd. Behind him, a decorated Christmas tree is topped with a red baseball cap.
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event on December 19, 2023, in Waterloo, Iowa.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

But it’s a narrow advantage. The polls I relied on showed an average Trump lead of 0.2 points. A swing of less than 2 points in the polls would lead to a prediction of a Biden victory. So while I think the public’s lackluster mood toward the economy and Biden’s relative unpopularity put him at a disadvantage going into 2024, it’ll be a nail-biter for sure.

This, of course, assumes Trump will be on the ballot, and the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling disqualifying him puts that in some doubt. But I don’t think much doubt; as Andrew Prokop explained for Vox, the likely outcome here is that the Supreme Court rules on whether Trump’s participation in the January 6, 2021, insurrection disqualifies him from the ballot, and I cannot envision the Court ruling against Trump, both because of its partisan leanings and out of fear of Trump supporter backlash delegitimizing the Court. —Dylan Matthews

Republicans will recapture the Senate (85 percent)

The 2024 Senate map is absolutely brutal for Democrats. They are defending 23 seats to only 11 held by Republicans, and only two of the latter (in Florida and Texas) are remotely competitive. Democrats don’t stand much of a chance of regaining the seats they lost six years ago in deep-red Indiana, Missouri, and North Dakota, and challenging Sens. Rick Scott (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) will be expensive and difficult. Florida is trending Republican, and Texas hasn’t elected a Democrat to statewide office in three decades.

Democrats, by contrast, are without a doubt losing a seat (the one Joe Manchin is vacating in West Virginia), and the Cook Political Report lists three others as tossups: the reelection bids of Jon Tester in Montana and Sherrod Brown in Ohio, and the three-way race between independent Krysten Sinema, Democrat Ruben Gallego, and an as yet undetermined Republican in Arizona. Tester and Brown are both in states that Trump won in 2020 by wide margins, and both won very narrowly six years ago.

Democrats have a 51-49 majority right now, and the loss of West Virginia will narrow that to 50-50. So for Republicans to regain control, they either need to win the presidency (letting Donald Trump’s vice president break the 50-50 tie) or beat either Tester, Brown, or Gallego/Sinema. That’s before considering the several seats where Democrats are narrowly favored (in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Michigan) but could still be vulnerable.

Simply put: There are many, many ways for Republicans to retake the Senate. Everything has to go right simultaneously for Democrats to keep it. That makes for high odds of Republican capture. —DM

Democrats will recapture the House (55 percent)

Republicans currently hold a margin in the House nearly as razor-thin as the Democrats’ lead in the Senate. After George Santos’s expulsion in December, Republicans held 221 seats, just three above the bare minimum needed for a majority. If they lose five seats in November (or four and also lose Santos’s seat in the special election on February 13), they’re toast.

There are a few reasons to think Republicans will do slightly worse than they did in 2022, just enough to lose the House. Among the most important is a recent court ruling in New York ordering a redistricting of the state’s House seats, which most observers think will favor Democrats. That offsets an effort in North Carolina to gerrymander in favor of Republicans.

More importantly, House and presidential voting are becoming increasingly correlated, and that’s good news for Democrats. The 2022 midterms saw 18 Republicans elected from Biden-won districts, and only five Democrats elected in Trump-won districts. Redistricting scrambles those numbers somewhat (and Santos, one of the 18, is gone), but that suggests that Democrats have more obvious pickup opportunities than Republicans do in 2024.

There’s still an easy-to-imagine world where Republicans hold the House, especially if Trump wins the presidential race and if he pulls out a popular vote victory this time. But Democrats have a modest leg up at this point. —DM

Inflation will come in under 3 points (65 percent)

In 2022, I predicted that inflation (measured by the Fed’s preferred metric) would stay below 3 percent; I was very wrong, as prices continued to rise at rates we hadn’t seen in decades. In 2023, I predicted inflation would stay above 3 percent; I was right, but inflation was falling rapidly by the end of the year.

It looks like 2024 will actually enjoy the kind of low inflation I projected two years ago. Prices will probably rise moderately, and interest rates will remain pretty high, but the big spikes we saw a while back won’t return. The Federal Reserve Board’s range of estimates for the year is between 2.3 and 3 percent, with the median at 2.4 percent. The Survey of Professional Forecasters, which pulls together estimates from economists at banks and other private-sector entities, finds that on average they put 23.2 percent probability on prices rising by more than 3 percent between the fourth quarter of 2023 and that of 2024.

I’m a little less confident than them, partly because the 2022 experience made me reduce my overall confidence in our collective ability to forecast price dynamics this far in advance. More to the point, the specific forces that drove prices high in 2022, like a semiconductor shortage and supply chain disruptions from Covid and the Ukraine war, do not seem likely to repeat next year. Then again, I didn’t see the Ukraine war coming, and it’s possible another curveball like that (maybe a Chinese incursion into Taiwan?) could send prices soaring. —DM

2023 US car crash deaths will again exceed 40,000 (60 percent)

Every year since the Covid-19 pandemic, the US has faced a dismal surge in car crash deaths. In 2021, for the first time since 2007, car fatalities surpassed 40,000, likely due to how Covid permanently altered America’s driving routines, among other factors. The most recent full year figures available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), from 2022, show that close to 43,000 Americans were killed by cars that year, and an early estimate for the first nine months of 2023 (January through September) shows more than 30,000 deaths over that period. I’d be surprised if 2023 traffic patterns differed enough from 2022 to bring us back to the pre-pandemic baseline (and the preliminary data is consistent with that hunch), so I predict that when NHTSA releases total 2023 car death figures, they’ll easily remain above 40,000. —Marina Bolotnikova

The world

Netanyahu will be unseated as Israeli prime minister (75 percent)

Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel was an unprecedented calamity for the country, and many analysts think it will finally be the end of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Though he’s tried to place the blame elsewhere for the failure to protect Israelis, the people aren’t buying it: Polls keep showing that voters want him outby a wide margin.

In fact, the outrage being directed against him is so intense that some will find it weird that I’m only giving it 75 percent odds that he’ll be unseated in 2024. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my years living in and reporting on Israel, it’s that you should never underestimate Bibi’s canny campaigning and his ability to rise from the political ashes. We’ve seen it happen before. It is conceivable that he manages to cling to power for yet another term. Still, I think if ever there was a time when he could be pushed out, it’s now. —Sigal Samuel

The world will be hotter in 2024 than it was in 2023 (80 percent)

Future Perfect has repeatedly predicted that the coming year will be warmer than the previous one, giving it 80 percent odds. As my colleague Kelsey Piper has noted, “This is based on looking at the last 25 years of atmospheric temperature data: On average, in four out of five years, this prediction would be right.”

With the continued burning of fossil fuels that cause climate change, it should come as no surprise that 2023 was the hottest year ever recorded. And 2024 will probably be even hotter, in part because of El Niño, the warm phase of the Pacific Ocean’s temperature pattern. In fact, experts predict that 2024 may be the first year that the average global surface temperature tops 1.5 degrees Celsius above what it was in the pre-industrial period. —SS

Narendra Modi, wearing frameless eyeglasses and a white beard, pictured mid-speech, lifting an arm in the air.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi celebrates local election results at Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters.
Prakash Singh/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Narendra Modi will remain as prime minister of India after the country’s 2024 elections (85 percent)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi could reasonably claim to be the most popular democratically elected leader in the world. According to Morning Consult’s weekly approval ratings of more than 20 democratic leaders, Modi’s net approval was a sky-high +60 among Indian voters as of late November, twice as high as the next most popular leader. And while other politicians around the world have seen their fortunes ebb and flow, Modi’s popularity has barely changed since the polls first became available in August 2019. That personal popularity has translated to electoral wins, most recently in state elections in December, where Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) achieved a sweeping victory in three heavily populated northern states.

Beginning in April, hundreds of millions of Indian voters will go to the polls to pick their next government in the world’s largest election. Could Modi, who has been in power since 2014, lose? It’s possible — more than 20 opposition parties, including the BJP’s main opponent the Congress Party, formed the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance in July in an effort to present a unified opposition. But this election is easier to call than just about any other in 2024. I would be shocked if Modi doesn’t stay in power — and tighten his grip on it.

In fact, the real question isn’t so much who will win the 2024 Indian elections, but whether we’ll see free and fair ones in the future. As my colleague Zack Beauchamp wrote in June, Modi has “systematically taken a hammer to the core institutions of Indian democracy.” From manipulating judges to controlling the press to undermining the machinery of elections, Modi is pushing the boundaries on how authoritarian a leader can become while still being “democratically elected.” Add in the allegations that Indian intelligence ordered the assassination of a Canadian citizen in Canada, and tried to do the same in the US, and 2024 is set to be a watershed year for India and its democracy — whatever the outcome of the spring’s election. —BW

Claudia Sheinbaum will become Mexico’s first female president (90 percent)

If the US election in 2024 will be close, our neighbor to the south will probably see a resounding landslide. Current polling suggests the overwhelming favorite is Claudia Sheinbaum, an engineering professor and climate researcher who until recently served as mayor of Mexico City. She is the nominee of the left-wing Morena party and a longtime ally of the party’s founder and leading figure, incumbent President Andrés Manuel Lopéz Obrador.

AMLO, as he is known by the Mexican public, remains wildly popular, which is especially notable at a time when Covid-19 and inflation have cratered the popularity of many incumbent governments. Being his preferred successor gives Sheinbaum an incredible edge. She’s not the intensely charismatic firebrand that her mentor is, but the fact that she remains roughly 20 points ahead of her nearest rival when that rival has the support of all three major opposition parties — parties that have historically fought each other tooth and nail but united to take down AMLO and Morena — makes me think she has this in the bag. —DM

Ukraine will not break the “land bridge” between Donbas and Crimea (70 percent)

As of this writing, Russia controls the red portions of Ukraine’s territory:

A map of Ukraine and surrounding countries Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania, outlining portions of Ukrainian territory occupied by Russia in red. Esri/USGS

In 2014, Russia seized Crimea and used separatist militias to establish two puppet regimes in the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine. When it began a full-scale invasion of the country in February 2022, it was able to seize the land between these two areas, establishing a “land bridge” that allowed it to run supplies between its two major footholds in Ukraine. Russia is also linked to Crimea by the Kerch Bridge and can use that to supply troops in Crimea as well, but Ukraine understandably keeps blowing that bridge up.

Breaking the “land bridge,” then, has become a major goal of the Ukrainian military. If they can lead an offensive through the middle of Russian-held territory, they can split the Russian zone in two, and perhaps even enable a blockade of Crimea that could force the peninsula to yield. That would then free up resources to regain control of Russian-occupied land to the east.

It’s a good goal, but to date, Ukraine has struggled to achieve it. The much anticipated 2023 offensive by Ukrainian forces was mostly a bust, failing to change the frontlines appreciably. The proliferation of drones providing reconnaissance for both sides has made it more challenging to launch surprise attacks, effectively providing an advantage to the defending side. That’s good for retaining Ukrainian control over the majority of its territory, but bad for retaking land Russia has claimed.

We’re not at a point of total battlefield surveillance, though, and more modest changes in the frontlines are possible. It’s also possible that one or the other side develops effective enough signal-jamming approaches that they can deny their enemy the ability to use drones, which could enable rapid movement. But I think the existing dynamics of the war make a severing of the land bridge unlikely in the next year. —DM

Science and technology

The FDA will approve MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD (85 percent)

After publishing some promising study results, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) recently filed for FDA approval of MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD. Now the two questions are: Will the FDA grant its approval, and if so, will it do so by the end of 2024?

For my prediction to come true, we need a “yes” to both. I am pretty confident MDMA will get the green light because in addition to the strong study results (and MAPS and the FDA agreed in advance on the study design), there is now robust public support for trying innovative methods to help people with mental health issues. A 2022 letter from the Health and Human Services Department disclosed that President Biden’s administration anticipates regulators will approve MDMA for PTSD and psilocybin for depression within the next two years.

But the FDA is, um, not exactly known for speed. If it views the MAPS filing as complete, it will aim to render a decision in six to 10 months. But because this is a psychedelic drug we’re talking about, we may see extra risk evaluations, which could drag out the timeline. So although I think approval is likely in late 2024, I won’t give this prediction more than 85 percent odds. —SS

OpenAI will release ChatGPT-5 by the end of November 2024 (75 percent)

A company that fires its CEO, promotes an interim CEO, then hires a new CEO, then experiences a total company rebellion, then brings back the original CEO, all within a week, is a company that is inherently hard to predict. And that’s especially true given that divisions over AI safety and the rate at which OpenAI was commercializing its products played at least some role in that internal division. It might make sense for OpenAI to take a beat and get its stuff together before unleashing the next full version of ChatGPT upon the world.

But the former and future OpenAI CEO Sam Altman is nothing if not ambitious, and we know the company has been working on ChatGPT-5. (For the purposes of this prediction, OpenAI will need to release a product called “ChatGPT-5” — no “ChatGPT-4.5 Turbo” or whatever.) If anything, 75 percent might be a bit low. The good people at Metaculus currently have September 2024 as their median forecast for when ChatGPT-5 will be released.

My hesitancy largely stems from the possibility that in the aftermath of the management implosion, OpenAI might take the opportunity to be more deliberate with its commercial rollouts. That said, given the increasing competition in the large language model arena — and the need to generate revenue to cover the crippling cost of all that computing — OpenAI will probably continue its evolution into an actual tech company and just keep shipping. —BW

Starship will complete a launch without either stage exploding (65 percent)

Last year, I predicted that Starship, SpaceX’s newest and biggest rocket system, would reach orbit. It did not, but its two test flights in 2023 nonetheless registered some progress, with the second passing through the Kármán line and becoming the most powerful vehicle ever to reach outer space.

The orbit prediction was flawed not just because it was wrong, but because it was an ill-chosen threshold on my part. Even if the test flights SpaceX conducted had totally succeeded by the company’s own standards, the craft would not have entered orbit or made it a full rotation around the Earth.

A more meaningful standard would be a test where neither the first nor second stage of the rocket is lost due to an explosion or “unscheduled rapid disassembly,” to use the term SpaceX employed to describe the fate of the second stage during the second test flight this year.

Ultimately, the goal is for Starship to be fully reusable and each part of it recoverable for future launches. That said, Elon Musk has indicated that recovery is a secondary priority to getting the system to a point where it can successfully launch satellites. My prediction will be met even if test flights do not result in the first or second stages being recovered in reusable form, or even fully intact. They can break apart on contact with the water. But they can’t explode due to the rocket’s flight termination system or some error during the flight like out-of-control ignition of fuel. Everything has to go as planned while the rockets are going up, even if they aren’t recognizable once they make it back down. —DM

A futuristic-looking stainless steel vehicle parked in a showroom.
Tesla’s Cybertruck on display at a showroom.
David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Fewer than 1,000 Cybertrucks will be delivered to customers (60 percent)

It has been over four years since Elon Musk unveiled the design of the Tesla Cybertruck, a disastrous event that culminated in lead designer Franz von Holzhausen attempting to show off how tough the vehicle’s “armor glass” windows were and smashing them in the process.

This past November, Tesla finally unveiled the “finalized” model of the truck to auto journalists and other observers, and it’s as ridiculous as promised. It’s still boxy, still looks like a poorly rendered car from a Nintendo 64 game, and it still has a single, nearly 4-foot-long “monowiper” to clean the windshield. (Will the wiper snap in half at the first sight of inclement weather? TBD!)

The first trucks were delivered to consumers on November 30. But knowing Tesla and Musk, and knowing that this truck was first promised to be available in 2021, that seems more like a publicity stunt than the beginning of the vehicle’s general availability. I have serious doubts about the likelihood of the model ramping up production enough to fill more than a small fraction of existing orders. The company is already saying that the base model will not be available until 2025, and I expect delays on the higher-end all-wheel-drive models currently being promised for 2024.

I’m not too confident in this prediction; Tesla has more experience producing electric vehicles than any other company on earth, and that makes me think there’s a real chance they can figure out how to make this thing at scale. But they also have a well-earned reputation for overpromising and underdelivering, which I think is the likely outcome for the Cybertruck. —DM

Waymo will expand to a new city (80 percent)

As of this writing, there are two US cities where average people can download an app from the Alphabet-owned firm Waymo and get a ride from a self-driving taxi that doesn’t even have a human driver in it as backup: San Francisco and Phoenix. Waymo, formerly the self-driving division of Google, has long been a leader in this space, and has shot forward after the General Motors-owned Cruise was banned from SF following an incident in which a pedestrian was trapped under one of its vehicles. Cruise then announced it was suspending all US operations to “earn public trust,” and its CEO quit in due course.

Cruise’s travails mean Waymo is now the uncontested king of self-driving in the US, at least for the moment. “If Waymo can perfect its technology, it could have time to establish market dominance,” my former Vox colleague Timothy Lee writes, who, along with the Verge’s Andrew Hawkins, is one of the people I trust most on self-driving cars.

Establishing market dominance requires expansion, and Waymo seems set to expand in 2024. It has established customer waitlists in Austin and Los Angeles, and offered a brief “tour” in the latter city this year where ordinary customers could try it. I’m predicting that at least one new city — probably Austin or Los Angeles, but anything’s possible I suppose — will reach the status of San Francisco and Phoenix in 2024, where ordinary people can download the Waymo One app and order a ride. Because of high demand, the company still rations out invite codes needed to use the app, but anecdotally those are pretty easy to get (you can DM Waymo on Twitter/X and usually get one). I assume they’ll do the same in new cities. But I’m guessing that several thousand more people are going to be using robotaxis routinely in 2024 than in 2023. —DM

Animals

Antibiotics sales for farmed animals will increase at least 1 percent in 2023 (65 percent)

Almost 70 percent of medically important antibiotics sold in the US go to the livestock sector in an attempt to ward off disease in unsanitary factory farms, giving rise to antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” which in turn make antibiotics less effective for humans. The World Health Organization has gone as far as to call on meat producers to phase out routine antibiotic use in livestock and only administer them when animals get sick.

New US Food and Drug Administration rules set in the mid-2010s led to a dramatic drop in antibiotic sales for livestock, but they’ve ticked back up since 2017. I predict that trend will have continued in 2023 (the FDA will release sales data for 2023 at the end of 2024).

I could be wrong, given that a lot of antibiotics are fed to cattle and beef production is expected to have fallen almost 5 percent in 2023. The pork industry buys a lot of antibiotics, too, and their production is expected to increase only 1 percent in 2023. Turkey producers make up a small but growing share of antibiotic sales, and production is expected to have increased almost 5 percent in 2023.

That should all lead to about a 1 percent overall decrease in antibiotic sales for 2023, but the amount of antibiotics purchased by meat producers doesn’t neatly correspond with production levels. For example, in 2022, the growth in antibiotic sales for beef and pork far outpaced the growth in actual pork and beef production. So, I’m going to predict an increase of at least one percent. —KT

Oatly’s stock price will not exceed $5 in 2023 (60 percent)

Oatly makes, in my opinion, the tastiest plant-based milk on the market. A lot of people agree, and the company took the dairy alternative sector by storm in the late 2010s.

The fervor drove the company to go public in May 2021 with a stock price debut of $17 per share, which peaked at almost $29 that summer. Since then, it’s been in free fall. It’s now just a little over $1 per share, and earlier this year, it went under 50 cents per share.

The company has been plagued by manufacturing shortages and inefficiencies, and a wave of imitators. Oatly pretty much created oat milk in the 1990s, but once it started to become popular, every company that was making plant milk from soy, almonds, and other ingredients began making milk from oats, too. In other words, it’s partly a victim of its own success.

In its quarter three financials released in November, it reported just a 2.5 percent revenue increase year over year, with sales shooting up in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa region, slightly declining in the Americas, and dropping sharply by 31 percent in Asia. It just opened its first production facility in China, which could help it turn things around in the region where it’s arguably poised for the most growth.

That said, global plant-based milk sales were still growing last year, and the company has a better product and branding than its competitors. But I’m skeptical it’ll be enough to help the company ramp up its revenue. —KT

45 percent of the US egg supply will be cage-free by late November (70 percent)

From the start of 2015 to the end of 2023, the share of US eggs from cage-free chickens leapt from around 6 percent to 39 percent. It was the result of persistent campaigning from animal welfare advocates that stretched back to the early 2000s — primarily lobbying state legislatures, passing statewide ballot measures, and persuading food corporations to change their animal welfare policies. (Disclosure: I worked on the issue on and off from 2012 to 2017 at animal welfare nonprofits prior to joining Vox.)

The share of hens raised cage-free has grown by about 5 percent each year since 2019, but I’m going to predict we’ll see a slightly bigger percentage growth — 6 percent — in 2023 for two reasons.

The first is that three state laws requiring all eggs sold in the state to be cage-free come into effect on January 1, 2024, in Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. Their populations combined account for around 5 percent of US egg consumption. Even more state laws go into effect at the start of 2025, covering around 7 percent of US egg consumption. However, I’m not predicting a 12 percent increase because some of those states’ egg supply is already cage-free. Plus, some of the ramp-up to these laws may already be reflected in recent data or won’t be reflected in the end of 2024 data.

Second, most food corporations that committed to going cage-free set a 2025 deadline. Many companies have or will meet it, but many won’t, especially grocers, which sell a big portion of the US egg supply. Two of the biggest — Kroger and Walmart — have already backed away from their 2025 deadlines. But speaking from experience, nothing spurs action better than a deadline, so we may see companies inch closer to their goal than they did in previous years.

The switch from a cage farm to a cage-free farm represents just a marginal improvement for a hen’s life, but it’s remarkable that a tiny, poorly funded movement has been able to change a fundamental practice of a massive industry. I’ll bet that in 2024, the rate of change will be a little faster than in recent years. —KT

More than 20 million poultry birds will be culled due to bird flu (60 percent)

2022 was the worst year ever for avian flu in the US. The outbreak tore through giant chicken and turkey factory farms throughout the country, resulting in the mass extermination (using, it’s worth emphasizing, the cruelest kill method imaginable) of more than 57 million birds. Last year, Future Perfect predicted that 2023 bird flu deaths would again exceed 50 million, which didn’t quite come true. As of this writing (December 21), only about 19 million poultry birds have been culled in 2023, bringing the total from the bird flu outbreak that began in 2022 to about 77 million.

Nearly all of those 2023 killings took place in the last couple months of the year, which means that we’re currently in a big resurgence of the disease (consistent with its seasonal transmission pattern). The number of birds culled between October and the end of 2023 was more than double the number from the same period the previous year, which tells me avian flu is heavily ramping up right now rather than slowing down, as it was in late 2022. But the flow of animal diseases can be pretty surprising, so with all that in mind, I predict with medium confidence that by the end of this year, the 2024 death toll from bird flu will exceed 20 million. —MB

Participants marching in a rally chant and hold signs, on October 5, 2019, in Manhattan, New York. One sign reads: Right To Rescue
Animal rights activists with the grassroots animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere organized a march from Bryant Park to the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan, New York, in 2019.
Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

More animal rights activists will be sentenced to jail or prison (40 percent)

This past November, animal rights activist Wayne Hsiung was convicted and sentenced to jail time for his role in mass actions at two California factory farms in 2018 and 2019. The group Hsiung co-founded in 2013, Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), has fueled a resurgence of the radical wing of the animal rights movement, with risky tactics including trespassing at factory farms and rescuing animals suffering there.

Hsiung’s jail sentence was the first one ever for DxE, and I think there will soon be more. This year, he and two other activists, Eva Hamer and Paul Darwin Picklesimer, will face trial in Madison, Wisconsin, for entering a facility that breeds beagles for animal testing and rescuing three of the dogs in 2017.

I think at least one conviction and jail or prison sentence is more likely than any other individual outcome (the others include acquittal, conviction with no jail time, a deadlocked jury, or the case getting dropped or delayed by prosecutors), though my confidence is quite low because jury trials can be very unpredictable. In October 2022, for example, Hsiung and Picklesimer were acquitted for rescuing two piglets from pork giant Smithfield Foods in a historic trial in a very conservative Utah county. Madison (where I live!) is ultra-progressive by comparison, and it’s adorable beagles, rather than food animals, that are at the heart of the case. I’ll be watching the trial closely and will definitely keep readers apprised. —MB

Culture and sports

Billie Eilish will win a Grammy for “What Was I Made For?” (90 percent)

If you didn’t cry during the womanhood montage in Barbie set to Billie Eilish’s melancholic crooning, you didn’t do the movies right, I’m afraid. But in all seriousness, the Gen Z icon has a pretty strong track record at the Grammys. She holds seven Grammys, one of which was for her James Bond song, “No Time to Die.” If there’s anything Billie does especially well, it’s an emotional ballad for a movie! It also doesn’t hurt that “What Was I Made For?” was nominated across five categories. I will be shocked if her girl sadness anthem doesn’t get another win under her belt next month. —Izzie Ramirez

One of the Kardashian-Jenners will appear in a Schiaparelli dress for the Met Gala (60 percent)

2023 was Schiaparelli’s year! Beyoncé’s Renaissance Tour featured this custom moment from the haute couture brand, and who could forget rapper Doja Cat’s controversial, head-to-toe scarlet bedazzled look? Kylie Jenner is already a fan of Schiaparelli, wearing a glittery gold gown earlier this year, and Kim Kardashian wore the brand at the 2023 Met Gala.

Given that the gala and accompanying exhibition’s theme for 2024 — “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion” — is centered around the sensory qualities and ephemeral nature of a garment prior to being archived, I truly believe one of the Kardashians or Jenner family members will roll up to the steps of the Met adorned in Schiaparelli. Creative director Daniel Roseberry has revitalized the fashion house with edge, a keen sense of humor, and plenty of historical nods to the brand’s founder, Elsa Schiaparelli. There are a lot of motifs to choose from, ranging from the surreal anatomic iconography to the groundbreaking lobster dress.

While I don’t quite think the Kardashian-Jenners will repeat wearing an archival piece given the hoopla around Kim in Marilyn Monroe’s dress, Schiaparelli will certainly be up to the artistic and technological challenge of bringing the gala’s theme to life. It’s just a matter of choosing between Kim, Kylie, Kendall, Khloe, Kourtney, or Kris. —IR

Oppenheimer will win Best Picture at the 2024 Academy Awards (70 percent)

Did any of the other likely nominees for Best Picture successfully simulate a nuclear explosion on film without the use of CGI? Let’s see …

Martin Scorcese’s three-hour and 26-minute 1920s epic Killers of the Flower Moon? Nope.

The Holdovers’s grouchy Paul Giamatti in a New England boarding school take on the modern Christmas film? Zero explosions, other than the verbal kind.

Very, very weird Emma Stone-starring Poor Things? No, only sex bombs. (And Oppenheimer had those, too.)

The other half of Barbenheimer, Greta Gerwig’s “is it a feminist masterpiece or a toy commercial or some kind of postmodern mashup of the two” Barbie? Honestly, I’m not sure — I took my 6-year-old son to the film and he demanded we leave once Kate McKinnon’s Weird Barbie showed up about 20 minutes in. I think he had his first existential crisis.

The bottom line? The Academy loves biopics, it loves period pieces, and for some reason, it weirdly loves modern films that feature black-and-white scenes. J. Robert Oppenheimer wasn’t quite the hero the film makes him out to be — read our piece on the “cry baby scientist” — but come Oscar night, Oppie is going home a winner. —BW

Shohei Ohtani will lead the major leagues in home runs in the 2024 season (75 percent)

For those of you who don’t follow baseball — which, given the ratings for the 2023 World Series, is essentially all of you — Shohei Ohtani may be the best baseball player since Babe Ruth. That is not hyperbole. In 2023, Ohtani recorded a WAR stat of 10.1, a full 16 percent higher than the next-best player. (WAR means “wins above replacement,” and it calculates how many more game wins an individual player is worth than a totally average player at the same position. It’s basically the stat to rule all stats for Moneyball heads.) But what’s really amazing is that while Ohtani wasn’t the best hitter or best pitcher by WAR rankings, he was the only player in baseball who did both. He hits baseballs a long way, and he strikes lots of guys out. No one in baseball has done that since … Babe Ruth.

Ohtani wears a white Dodger’s uniform and smiles as he puts on a blue LA dodgers baseball cap.
Shohei Ohtani at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California, on December 14, 2023.
Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

Those unique skills earned Ohtani the largest contract in sports history, with the Los Angeles Dodgers paying him $700 million for 10 years. (It also comes with some unique elements, including the fact that Ohtani will actually defer $680 million of that $700 million until after the 10 years of his contract is completed, which apparently is legal?) That sets him up for some sky-high expectations in the 2024 season.

Because of an injury last season, Ohtani won’t be able to pitch in 2024, which means he’ll be focused exclusively on hitting. He was already on pace for 51 home runs last year before his injury, which would have put him just behind the major league lead in that category. I think he has an excellent chance to lead the league in homers in 2024 — and without the distraction of pitching, I’d even give him an outside chance to break Barry Bonds (just ever so slightly steroid-tainted) major league record of 70. Go, Ohtani-san, go! —BW

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