Before our predictions for the New Year, something I’ve done for, now, the 5th consecutive year – see past predictions here – of course, have to look back at this year. Forgive the immodesty, but we crushed it. We made some pretty bold predictions and took some flak for leaning cynical with our views on trends that, at the time, seemed unstoppable (notably SPACs, NFTs/Web3/Metaverse, and late-stage tech). So, what lies ahead for 2023?
Glad you asked…
- Besides Lensa.ai (the latest version of “hot or not” that everyone shares on Twitter), AI is the real deal. We will see its application spread well beyond its “big data” roots to every corner of tech. There will be many smart use cases in verticals like industrial automation, large-scale inspection/maintenance (in powering computer vision), and replacing the worst hourly wage jobs (e.g., autonomous robots cleaning public bathrooms). The application of AI for real-world usage is finally here, and rather than replacing humans (as some fear), it will support them in real ways (well beyond de-aging them in photos).
- Climate change tech going mainstream. The good news is people are finally recognizing that climate change is happening and is a real and imminent danger to the planet. As a result, a record amount of capital is available for a record number of startups trying to address the problem from various angles. The bad news is that they will need way more time and money to gain acceptance and adoption than perhaps people expect. This transition may, unfortunately, need a decade or more to see tangible results (but we have to start somewhere, so keep it up, everyone).
- As OGsocial media platforms lose relevance for different reasons (from data access restrictions to megalomaniacs long on wealth and short on basic human decency), there will be major ripple effects. Our thoughts on two of them:
- As it becomes clear that the effectiveness of Facebook & Instagram ads isn’t bouncing back to pre-iOS “App Tracking Transparency” levels, eCommerce brands branch out to other channels in a big way. Among other impacts, this helps podcasts buck macro ad-spend headwinds and continue to grow in the 45-50% YoY range.
- A viable Twitter competitor emerges, Twitter users with the biggest followings begin to simul-post on both platforms, advertisers and smaller users follow, all of the above gradually stop bothering with Twitter, and (maybe not until 2024) Twitter falls below a critical mass of users and Elon engineers a hasty, desperation merger with Truth Social, which only serves to throw off some additional investment banking fees before the inevitable $45 billion dumpster fire.
- (Really “2a”) On the bright side, NeoTwitter is actually well run and manages not to degenerate into a hate-fueled cesspool quickly (maybe more hope than a prediction, but come on people, we can do this!)
- We could not talk 2023 prediction without discussing the future of work. If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that we really have no idea how this remote/in-person thing is going to shake out, and while millions have been poured into this investment category, we will take the plunge and predict it does not live up to the hype.
- Software-driven efficiency improvements (on top of lingering supply chain trust issues and deteriorating U.S.-China relations) will lead to a noticeable uptick in U.S. manufacturing growth.
- While virtual reality migrates back to the novelty-product fringe (where it belongs; for now, anyway), augmented realitywill have its breakout year as a truly transformative software feature for applications in construction, real estate, infrastructure, and beyond.
- And finally, ChatGPT proves to be a little too good, leading to widespread high school and college cheating scandals (and maybe an academic journal submission scandal or two), followed by a (mostly) healthy national debate about whether this actually is cheating, or whether we need to figure out how to incorporate new AI tools into academic research and curricula.
There you have it, folks, our 2023 predictions are laid out and ready to crush again next year!