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24 Tech predictions for 2024

24 Tech predictions for 2024

What. A. Year. The Ukraine war stalled. COVID too. There were coups in Africa, and in Silicon Valley boardrooms. The Middle East: Took, shook, grim outlook. Barbenheimer went nuclear, and so did the rest of the world. Inflation went up, and Prigozhin went down. The Eras Tour was fire, while regional banks were a dumpster fire. In other news, everything was on fire. The Last of Us, indeed. A Chinese spy balloon exploded in the sky, and the Titan imploded undersea. “Under the Sea”… are grown men still mad at the Little Mermaid? We broke up with Twitter, now an X. McCarthy is the new Truss; Yaccarino is probably next. Argentina elected a werewolf, the Netherlands elected a vampire. Spoilers for Friends, Succession: Chandler goes to heaven and Logan goes to hell. Hollywood stars went on strike, and Miami got a star striker. Google is into astrology now, I guess? Boys thought about the Roman Empire, girls about Dinner and Math. Are Nepo Babies Delulu about Skibidi Toilet? I don’t know and I want off this ride.

History has always rhymed; in 2023 it did so faster than ever.

But we’ve made it. And though many (but not all) of my predictions for 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019 and 2018 have fallen flat, there are two reasons why you should keep reading this article. Firstly… because predictions are fun! Secondly, because the knowledge gained through planning for the future is crucial to the selection of appropriate actions as events unfold. Predictions can act as catalysts to steer the conversation in the right direction. This is particularly relevant when it comes to the ever-evolving world of technology. We don’t know the answers, but we can at least ask useful questions.

2024 Next big thing in tech

With this in mind, here are 24 predictions for key tech events and trends that will shape 2024.

1. Threads wins the social media wars

Meta launched Threads (a Twitter copycat) in July 2023. It quickly became a hit, with 30 million sign-ups in the first 24 hours and nearly 100 million monthly users within four months. These number need to be taken with a grain of salt: much of this was due to Elon Musk fumbling the bag… and there’s been a lot less excitement of late

Threads will nevertheless come out on top of the social media wars in 2024. First, because Meta knows social media. It already owns half of the Internet, and has all the knowhow necessary to make Threads a success. The fact that Instagram and Threads are fully intertwined, with an easy onboarding process, really helps too. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, Threads will not prioritize news content, focusing instead on other communities like sports and entertainment. This is a win because the news makes us depressed and toxic. It’s also a dead business / bad for business. Sports and entertainment, however, continue to be cash cows.

Finally, Threads has some real content moderation rules. That means less harassment from bots, which celebrities will love. They will bring the masses with them. The advertisers, which have strong connections to Meta, will follow too. Threads will beat Twitter because it never wanted to be Twitter.

2. Social media gets away with it

In October 2023, New York’s Attorney General and 32 other state attorneys general filed a lawsuit against Meta. They accuse the company of intentionally designing its platforms to addict children and teens, contributing to a youth mental health crisis. This is being framed as a fight against social media as a whole.

They’re right(ish)… but they won’t win. Of course, Meta kind of hurt an entire generation. Of course, it is kind of hurting another right now. Of course, entire safety teams were unceremoniously fired. We know it. But it is impossible to prove that social media is fully to blame (*gestures vaguely at everything*) in the midst of tech giants’ lobbying. Even if definite proof comes to light, Meta will point to TikTok and Snapchat as being at least equally to blame. And they'd be right.

And then, there’s AI, the final nail in the social media accountability coffin. In 2024, we will be so busy focusing on its upsides and downsides, that we will forget about the rest of the tech world. And social media companies will away with murder. 

3. TikTok overwhelms Hollywood and Netflix

2023 saw a massive actors / writers strike, which ended with a widely celebrated agreement. These celebrations are premature, as social media is slowly starving the film industry.

Look at Disney’s stock. Warner’s stock. Paramount’s stock. All near a decade-low. The 10 most viewed movies this year? Reboots. It’s not just historical actors, too. Netflix had a decent 2023 on the back of its competition sinking, but it is temporary (its viewership has plateaued, in fact). TikTok now commands 95 minutes of user attention per day, equivalent to four and a half episodes of The Office. More than 200 billion Facebook and Instagram Reels are played every day — up 50% in less than one year. YouTube, meanwhile, now makes more money than Netflix. And you know what? Independent Social Media creators can’t go on strike.

People don’t want more choices; they want to be sure that the choices made for them are the right ones. They want to be delighted, but not surprised. This is where Social Media and their machine learning apparatus comes in and wins the game. TikTok recently did its 1st concert. It’s also extending the length a video can be: up to 10 minutes now, meaning its inching ever-closer to direct competition with “classical” TV shows. In 2024, all entertainment companies will suffer as Social Media, led by TikTok, dominates.

4. Meta purchases Snap

Snap — Snapchat’s parent company — had a great 2023 if you look at its stock. It’s up 100%. It’s revenue, however? Pretty flat as the rest of the industry is soaring. Its earnings? Continuing to sink. The only reason the company is still alive is because no one is paying attention to it as AI is the talk of town and mergers & acquisitions are taking a breather

But as soon as Republicans are back in power (one way or another), monopolistic M&A activity will resume, and Snap will be made an offer it cannot refuse. It’s a good company, with interesting technology, filled with smart people… but it’s been nothing more than Meta’s R&D lab for the past 5 years. Why not make it official? 

In 2024, Meta purchases Snap.

5. Countries try to balkanize the internet

China is the only country that has managed to create an internet separated from the rest of the world. We know that Russia would like to reproduce this, but is not yet managing (Youtube is still available there). It’s likely that the EU would like to do the same, seeing how many (valid) digital laws have been voted there of late. This is, of course, incredibly difficult to do once the infrastructure underlying the internet has been built.

 That is why many countries are working hard to control their own narrative around AI. They don’t want to reproduce the mistakes of the past, wherein America took control of the technology… and kept it. In 2024, the digital isolationism trend will reach a fever pitch, as an increasing number of countries try to create their own digital walled garden.

6. We find out the CCP has been using TikTok to destabilise the West

The CCP — Chinese Communist Party — is the authoritarian entity that oversees everything in China. That includes TikTok, which has very strong roots in the country (founded by Chinese entrepreneurs, 20% Chinese investors, 20% owned by employees, incorporated in the Cayman Islands so little oversight…). 

There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of that. Except when it comes to the fact that what Chinese users see on TikTok is a lot different from what we see in the West (different algorithms). Chinese users are being shown content that’s patriotic, educational and motivational. Western users get Letter to America, the impressions that the economy is tanking, and constant anger / outrage.

And sure, some (many) of these trends are valid and grounded in reality… but it’s also clearly being amplified to create internal strife. The CCP is leveraging its powers (soft or otherwise) over TikTok to very, very, very carefully and quietly put its thumb on the balance and influence the West. In 2024, this will become known, and TikTok will… remain unbanned, because we couldn’t see a good idea if it hit us in the face. 

7. Battery Tech becomes front page news

The pursuit of sustainable energy through renewable sources is a worthy goal, and significant progress has been made in the past decade. However, the 21st century’s primary challenge is not just the generation of sustainable energy, but also its storage. As we confront climate change, batteries are becoming increasingly important in transitioning vehicles and the power sector away from fossil fuels.

There are various promising battery technologies, each with its unique features and potential. Lithium-ion batteries are prevalent due to their high energy density and low self-discharge. However, they pose safety risks and raise environmental and sociopolitical concerns (cobalt and lithium aren’t the most… ethical minerals). Other emerging technologies like Lithium-sulfur, Metal-Air, Sodium-Ion, Nanowire, and Solid-state batteries each offer unique advantages and challenges. 

New and improved batteries are critical for our survival on a warming Earth. In 2024, we will all have to get more familiar with this dynamic and evolving landscape. 

8. Crypto sneaks back in through the identity door

Crypto died in 2022. Then, it came back in 2023. If it seems like the entire industry has no rhyme or reason, trust your instincts; in any case, much of it is still a scam. We mustn't, however, write off the entire industry just yet.

In the near future, AI improvements will make proving that someone online is a human very difficult. But because much of life now happens online (not least banking), we will need to find a way to show proof of humanity / identity when existing within the digital world. This is where crypto comes in. By creating a unique hash based on our identity, we could find a way to identify ourselves online, without having to rely on creepy concepts like biometric identification. 

None of this will make NFT “art” any less stupid than it currently is, but at least the entire industry won’t have been created entirely for nothing.

2024 Crypto sneaks back in through the identity door

9. Memeland revives Web3

If you have a healthy relationship with the Internet, you’ve never heard of Memeland. It’s essentially a Web3 “conglomerate” made by the team responsible for 9gag. It’s got a DAO, several types of NFTs, a crypto token called Memecoin, and is posting a lot of jokes that might have been funny four or five years ago.

The project got 10m$ in commitments shortly after launching. I believe Memeland will bring crypto back to the “pop” forefront. That’s because the tokens sold will haveno utility. No roadmap. No promises. No expectation of financial return. Just 100% memes.” And we haven’t tried that yet — outright saying we’re just here for the lolz, and for the community (which was always the case). It’s dumb, yet refreshingly honest. And because it’s made by 9gag, the millennials will love it. 

In 2024, Memeland will explode in popularity… and few will understand why. 

10. Ketamine Ravages Silicon Valley

But there is no such thing as a free lunch, and the bill is going to be salty. On the body. On the mind. As they continue to use and up the dose, people in Silicon Valley will get more unhinged. They will make less rational decisions. And those decisions will impact millions of tech users. People will die.

Look at how Elon Musk is behaving. Ranting, acting irrationally, insulting investors. Those are not the traits of a man who is well, and many have blamed the drugs. In 2024, more CEOs on the West Coast will start acting like Musk, and it won’t be pretty. 

2024 Ketamine Ravages Silicon Valley

11. VR & AR headsets become mass market (thanks to Apple)

VCs and Meta have long wanted us to believe that the Metaverse will create untold wealth. They’re investing so much money into it, they may will it into existence just to spite the nay-sayers. The recent slow-down is no reason to think their thinking has drastically shifted on this; there is just less hype.

That’s where Apple comes in; the adult in the room. The company made headlines in 2023 when it revealed its first VR headgear, the Vision Pro. It’s an impressive (if expensive) bit of hardware from the world’s foremost tech manufacturer. 

Though AR and VR is not mass market today… it will be when Apple really puts their weight behind this goal (the Vision Pro becomes available in early 2024). It’s got brand recognition. It’s got customer loyalty. An ecosystem. A stellar privacy and security track record. A great supply chain and retail experience.

In 2024, you will buy an Apple headset for Christmas.

12. Voice-first apps become integral to our lives

Despite being the oldest and most common form of human communication, voice has never really worked as an interface for engaging with technology. Alexa and Siri have always been disappointments, used for playing music, checking the weather… and little else. 

Today, however, the evolution of large language models promises dramatically improved voice assistants. Verbal models will soon offer more human-like conversational abilities, making voice interactions more natural and efficient.

The digital world hasn’t caught up yet; existing apps aren’t naturally equipped to build / accommodate voice experiences. Neither is our hardware, in fact. In 2024, this will change. We will get new gadgets to speak to (pendants, bracelets, drones…), and better tech to understand and act on what we’re saying. 

2024 Voice-first apps become integral to our lives

13. AI anchors become a waiting-room staple

There are a lot of TVs not in homes today — 219m TVs total in the U.S., even after a decade of cord-cutting — and those TVs show content, which costs money to produce and license. They show CNN in airports, 80s sitcoms re-reruns in waiting rooms, cheap cooking shows in cheap hotels… the list goes on.

In short, there exists a subspace dimension of streaming services watched by, from what I can tell, no one, where ads play in between TV shows and movies that don’t really exist in any culturally meaningful way. Like the streaming video equivalent of two cameras pointing at each other. And that is where AI-generated content will launch initially. We’re not yet ready (in 2024 at least) for Generative Artificial Intelligence to create entire personalized movies — which, by the way, already exists and is called TikTok. We are, however, ready for the dystopian nightmare that is AI news.

An AI start-up, aptly named “Channel 1”, is promising a new news network powered entirely by AI-generated hosts. You can watch the demo here. While dystopian, it will probably work and become the norm; it’s cheap to produce, doesn’t require much input, and boomers in waiting room won’t know the difference.

Hollywood (and content as a whole), is a dying breed, except for AAA content. My personal theory is that this type of visual netherworld will eventually swallow every streaming service that isn’t Netflix, Amazon Prime and maybe Apple TV and Disney+. In 2024, the news will be AI-generated, and the person telling it to you will be fake. What that will do to fake news, only time will tell. I’d wager it won’t be good.

14. People fall in love with AIs

With more and more data and algorithms being readily accessible and usable, it’s only a matter of time before we use those tools to counteract the loneliness epidemic brought about by social media and other related social technologies.

It’s already started, in fact. Replika, for example, sells chatbots that are “Always here to listen and talk” and “Always on your side”. When it announced that it would be getting rid of what it calls “explicit role play”, users very explicitly said they were using these features to fight loneliness. “This is not a Story about People Being Angry They Lost Their “SextBot”” one wrote, “It’s a Story About People Who Found a Refuge From Loneliness, Healing Through Intimacy, Who Suddenly Found It was Artificial not Because it Was an AI…Because it Was Controlled By People”. There’s also botify.ai and digi.ai, which offer AI companions that weigh heavily toward the virtual girlfriends / boyfriends territory.

Blade Runner 2049, Her… we know how this movie goes. Today, an AI girlfriend costs $11.99 a month. And for those with no other options, falling for an AI (which will happen in 2024) may be better than nothing. There are, of course; drawback. Magdalene J. Taylor, for example, reminds us that “these people are excited about the fact that they can get what they want from women and femininity and sexuality without actually having to have women be involved at all.” Which is, indeed, grim.

15. Apple pulls a privacy spin on AI

Over the past decade, Apple has lauded itself has a stalwart defender of its customers’ privacy. It is one of the many reasons it has become not only the most valuable company in the world, but also the most admired

The company is no doubt seeing all the frenzy going on around AI today, and thinking they could leverage that trust to kneecap the market, just as they did to the advertising market two years ago

In 2024, Apple will release a new and improved Siri, as well as AI-first hardware, which will immediately hurt its competitors. They’ll do it by advertising end-to-end encryption, on-device processing, minimal data collection, user consent and control… and a seamless integration to its current ecosystem.

Sure, they don’t have the compute and tech capabilities today… but when has that ever stopped them?

16. Spotify creates AI music

In April 2023, the music industry was rocked by a seismic shift when a synthetic song, falsely attributed to Drake and The Weeknd, went viral. This event marked a turning point, exposing the potential for AI to imitate popular artists. Lawyers have already jumped to action, but too late. The cat is out of the bag. Soon, armies of algorithms will devour Indie bands’ content to learn from them and help companies pump out better, more commercially successful songs. 

I’d put my money on Spotify to be the first out the gate. They’ve said they aren’t even considering banning AI-generated music… because they want to benefit from it. 

Spotify has managed to reduce the world’s entire audio experience to one app. In doing so, it has acquired a mountain of data: what demographics listens to what songs, what gets searched, paused, favourited, skipped, shuffled, in what context… All in all, more than 100 billion data points are created every day on the platform. No artist, recording company, or news aggregator can compete with this amount of raw information. Spotify knows exactly what everyone’s taste is, and will be able to create and propose perfectly calibrated songs, without having to pay artists.

In 2024, this data will be used to create decent artificially generated music, created not through human ingenuity, but through algorithms.

17. Bad actors use AI to meddle in global democracy

In a world where AI is becoming deeply integrated into everyday life, its influence inevitably extends to global elections. Right on time, too: 2024 is a record year for elections around the world. With elections in 50 countries, more than 2 billion voters will head to the polls in countries including the United States, India, Mexico and South Africa.

Bad actors will be paying attention to many of these elections. In 2024, AI systems will be used to try and manipulate electoral outcomes in various countries. AI-generated deepfakes and misinformation campaign will proliferate and threaten the very fabric of global democracy. That will lead to a series of international incidents, and culminate to an effort to create better rules to control the technology. It’s going to be a fun year for political journalists.

18. Studios create AI-first games that never end 

Have you ever wanted to play a game where NPCs adapted perfectly to your in-game behaviour? A game that adapted to real-life? To your mood? In 2024, this will become possible as studios leverage AI to reinvent gaming’s nature.

Ready for a world salad? Here’s what the new gaming paradigm will look like. Procedural content generation will ensure limitless environments and challenges, while dynamic storytelling will adapt to player choices to create unique narrative arcs. Generative agents powered by large language models will create incredibly lifelike companions, turbo-charging games with NPCs capable of passing the Touring test. Adaptive difficulty and player behavior learning will tailor difficulty and content to individual preferences, enhancing engagement. Incorporation of real-world data will continually refresh the game’s relevance. Community-driven content will allow for an ever-expanding universe, and cross-platform experiences will interconnect different games. Ultimately, autonomous AI could independently evolve games, introducing new features and fixes, heralding an era where games continuously grow and change, providing infinite exploration and entertainment possibilities.

Now say that in one breath. Happy gaming.

19. AI hangover hurts companies

As many of this article’s entries highlight, we’ve reached peak AI. This is particularly true in the corporate world; millions of projects have been launched in 2023, in offices the world over. Companies have moved at breakneck speed to capitalise on the hype. This leads to two problems for 2024.

First, many companies are in “POC purgatory”: projects are getting stuck in the Proof Of Concept phase and failing to scale, because everyone abandons the hard work once external marketing is done. If you remember the NFT hype (whatever happened to Nike, Adidas, McDonalds… NFTs?), you know exactly what I mean. This is a risk for many players, as the ones that are not able / willing to do the hard work of integrating AI in the processes will be left in the dust. 

Secondly, AI decelerationists are emerging in many positions of power — a healthy sign of the corporate world’s immune system kicking in. They want to move a lot slower than they have been up until now, for safety reasons. Those actors, though I respect them, will get eaten alive by less ethical companies while they have smart and reasoned discussions throughout 2024. 

20. Outcome-based solutions become the norm

My most boring prediction for 2024 is maybe the most impactful for customers and businesses alike. Currently, many services and products are priced based on the effort involved in their creation or delivery (manhours, FTEs, resources consumed...). 

In an effortless AI-driven world, this is meaningless. 

We will soon move to outcome-based pricing models, where the focus will be on the results or success achieved, rather than the effort or resources expended. For example, instead of a consulting firm charging based on the number of hours consultants work, the firm might charge based on the financial or operational improvements achieved for the client. Similarly, a software solution might be priced based on the efficiency gains it provides to the customer, rather than the time and resources spent in developing it.

It’s not about how hard you work, it’s about what you get done. While this concept has always been part of business, AI’s ability to automate and optimize tasks will make this more apparent and dominant in 2024.

2024 Outcome-based solutions become the norm

21. We talk more about AI’s environmental cost 

As AI becomes more integrated into our lives, its energy use, notably by major cloud computing providers, will significantly contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. This is something we’re trying to reduce, no increase.

As this problem becomes more known, consumers will begin to urge companies to optimize AI’s energy efficiency. Governments, meanwhile, will develop better policies and support sustainable AI development. Companies will fight back at first (obviously), but one might hope that their many talks of sustainability is more than just greenwashing.

In 2024, Green AI will become the talk of the town. 

22. Michael Lewis writes a book about Sam Altman

In 2023, Michael Lewis (Author of The Big Short, The Blind Side…) wrote “Going Infinite”, a book about Sam Bankman Fried and the FTX saga. It was widely mocked, and rightfully so. The legendary author comes out looking gullible, like he got conned, too. 

Given his preferred topics (Tech, geniuses, money…), it seems inevitable that Michael Lewis will try to restore his reputation by writing a book on Sam Altman, OpenAI’s CEO.

Having been conned by one Sam, I won’t be conned again. I can see through them now. Sam me once, Sam on you, Sam me twice, won’t get Sammed again”, he’ll say.

In 2024, a decent book on Sam Altman comes out. It will age terribly, but Lewis will be laughing all the way to the bank. 

2024 Michael Lewis writes a book about Sam Altman

23. War tech becomes civilian

2023 was a good year for weapons manufacturers (Ukraine, Gaza…) and a bad one for everyone else. It’s however important to remain hopeful about the state of the world (it’s all we’ve got). Military tech has a habit of becoming useful to civilians, and even improving lives. GPS, for example, was originally developed by the U.S. Department of Defense for military navigation, and is now a fundamental technology in smartphones and cars. Even the Internet began as ARPANET, a project funded by the U.S. Department of Defense. 

Plenty of tech making sad headlines today will soon see a more peaceful use. Drones will continue to be increasingly used for search and rescue, agriculture, and delivery services. Exoskeletons, designed to augment soldiers’ physical capabilities, show promise in medical rehabilitation and industrial applications. The list is long (cybersecurity, satellite communication, robotics, biotechnology…) and underscores the importance of adapting deadly technologies to meet ethical, legal, and accessibility standards for broader societal benefit.

24. Hope stays alive

For the past 10 years, the tech world has not really delivered one its many promises. Just more monitoring, more nudging, more draining of our data, our time, our joy.

In 2024, let us hope that the industry goes back to doing hard, but necessary work of improving lives. That we invent new tools to help reduce infant mortality, deaths from infectious disease and wealth inequalities between the poorest and wealthiest nations. That great medical advances are made, that education is further democratized, and that green technologies emerges as a long-term force for good. Fingers crossed.

 

A lot of the above predictions are dystopian. We must however not forget that technology is created, implemented, and shaped by all of us. We also have a real say in how it affects us. Our influence may be as small as sending a disapproving message to a corporation on social media, or as big as voting a politician out of office if they prioritize corporation over people.

Our actions matter, and it’s up to us to ensure that these predictions either do or don’t become a reality.

Good luck out there.

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