Crypto’s rollercoaster year, proliferating generative AI, spats in the Twitterverse, it certainly hasn’t been a quiet twelve months in tech. Next year is stacking up to be even busier and, dare I say, even more dramatic. Here are my top tech predictions for 2023.
#1 Generative AI: a demand for detector tools
2022 saw generative AI burst into the public consciousness with output from AI-generated art models Stable Diffusion, DALL-E and Midjourney all plastered all over the press. Text-based models also had their moment towards the end of the year with CHAT-GPT being tried out for student essay writing to demonstrate how convincing it is. The result is that all media will in future have to be divided into: ‘known-to-be-real’, and ‘may-be-synthetic’. Knowing which is which is going to be critical in the coming decade. AI detector tools, including ideas like the ‘watermarking’ of synthetic data, are going to be very hot topics in 2023.
#2 Big Tech breakups
2022 has been a bad year for tech. The year saw saw all the Big Tech giants (Google, Apple, Amazon, Meta) struggle with falling profits, staff layoffs and acres of bad press. In November Meta fired fired 11,000 people, or 13% of its staff, and there was a mass exodus at Twitter (and again after Elon sent the ‘extremely hardcore’ email…).
2023 may finally be the year when the Big Tech break-ups begin; both in terms of a break-up with its user base, increasingly disillusioned with Silicon Valley, and also as legislators eye tech giants‘ massive power and look to clip their wings. Watch this space.
#3 Sustainability is centre stage (but watch out for greenwashing and even ‘green hushing’)
Tech companies fall over themselves to ‘prove’ how sustainable they are. But Big Tech’s carbon footprint is huge. Amazon generated 71.54 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent last year, about as much pollution as 180 gas-fired power plants might pump out annually. The UK’s 2021 Green Claims Code, introduced to clamp down on misleading environmental claims, has increased consumer awareness of so-called ‘greenwashing’, but tech companies continue to shout about their commitment to net-zero while remaining large-scale environmental polluters. ‘Green hushing’ is forecast to be a trend in 2023 as companies try and avoid scrutiny of their climate plans altogether, to avoid social media takedowns.
#4 Workplace tech sparks a backlash
Employee monitoring and surveillance systems to supervise, discipline, and even fire workers was already a dark aspect of the tech industry before Covid. But under cover of the pandemic, and the working from home movement, it has proliferated. So-called bossware, often uses artificial intelligence (AI) to manage or monitor a company’s employees and it’s not infallible.
Expect a backlash against all employee surveillance software as public awareness grows about what has been happening and pushes back against its further spread.
#5 The Metaverse falls flat (but other ‘verses thrive)
Mark Zuckerberg has been desperate for the Metaverse to be a success but Wall Street has been loudly critical about his experimental project which has pushed Meta’s costs up by a fifth in the last quarter of 2022. And with The Wall Street Journal reporting that Meta’s flagship product, Horizon Worlds, is falling short of expectations with glitchy technology and uninterested users, it’s hard to see how Zuck can make his personal virtual world a success.
However, a 2022 Gartner report predicted that by 2026, 25% of us will spend at least one hour each day in ‘the’ Metaverse – but this may not be the one of Zuck’s making. An over-looked trend for organisations investing in their own private metaverses, resulting in no single tech company owning the space, creates opportunities for multiple players (rather like the internet). ‘The’ metaverse, it isn’t yet a single entity it’s made up of multiple technoolgies. That may be the way it achieves its success in 2023, and beyond.
#6 Crypto wallets proliferate
Despite the crypto storms of 2022 (Bitcoin, is currently down 75% since its all time high), cryptographic forms of money continue to develop and integrate with the traditional economy. All crypto owners need a spot to store their coins, so crypto wallets look set to become more ubiquitous in Web3 models of the future, in contrast to the traditional credit/debit card payments found in in Web 2.0.
Expect many more options to open up in the crypto wallet space in 2023 as multiple players vie for this lucrative (but highly volatile) market.
#7 Apple joins AR/VR
Mass production of Apple’s mixed-reality headset is said to be beginning in March next year, so 2023 marks the year Apple finally joins augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) worlds. Apple has been working on AR, VR, and mixed reality headsets for years, but has faced development struggles that have slowed progress. Apple is apparently developing at least two AR projects that include an augmented reality headset (coming in 2023) followed by a pair of augmented reality glasses – so-called ‘Apple Glasses’ – coming at a later date.
#8 DAOs everywhere
2023 is predicted to be the year of the networked DAO. DAOs, or Digital Autonomous Organisations, are a core part of Web3 – the internet of people (IoP) – and are based on the concept that an organisation just comprises (a) people and (b) the rules which govern how it operates, with those rules being set and enforced through distributed technology. All rules and governance for DAOs are enshrined in contracts running on a blockchain. For their fans, DAOs provide resilient, decentralised systems of governance which don’t require centralised authority and can function largely autonomously. They are essentially member-owned communities that aren’t influenced by a central government.
The legal status of DAOs are unclear and many of them are shadowy organisations, often involved in crypto trading or software development. But you’ll be hearing a lot more about them in 2023.
#9 Social media storms
Who can predict what will happen to Twitter under its most unpredictable of owners, Elon Musk, in 2023? Equally unknown is the fate of troubled Facebook under the Metaverse-obsessed Mark Zuckerberg. In my tech predictions last year I said that Zuck would silo Facebook into a separate business and I still maintain that’s a possibility. I’m going to stick my neck out though and predict that Elon and Twitter will part company in 2023 as Tesla’s shareholders put pressure on him to cease the distraction from his cash cow. Twitter is just going to prove too hard a nut for him to crack. But, who knows, Zuck might take it off his hands? Whatever happens, it’s going to be all-change in social media next year.
#10 Legislation starts to bite
The last of my tech predictions of 2023 is born more from hope than expectation. With the UK’s Online Safety Bill, the EU Digital Markets Act and the California’s Age-Appropriate Design Code all either enacted into legislation or very shortly about to be, 2023 could finally be the year that law-makers clamp down on the worst aspects of the digital world and act on child safety, data privacy and freedom from manipulative ad algorithms. We’ve been waiting a long time, surely 2023 is the year the sheriff will arrive in the digital Wild West? We can but hope…
If you enjoyed my tech predictions for 2023 and want to read more about my thinking about our complicated relationship with tech – and my thoughts about how we can improve it, pick up a copy of my new book.