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Dec 22, 2023, 12:10pm EST
tech

Generative AI will move from hype to actually being helpful

Reuters/NurPhoto/Jonathan Raa
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Sign up for Semafor Technology: What’s next in the new era of tech. Read it now.

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The Scene

This year, the world woke up to the possibilities of generative AI. Yet, what most people know about the technology amounts to dipping their toes in the water.

Next year will be the moment when every industry begins to implement it in meaningful ways. Perhaps as early as mid-2024, we will start to see user interfaces change from clicking and typing to simply talking, or at least using natural language commands.

In some scenarios, large language models will be capable of acting as our “agents,” completing multistep tasks that go across applications and platforms.

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Consumers will soon come to expect AI in almost all products, and companies that empower employees with the best AI-enabled tools will thrive. Those are just some of our predictions for the new year. Read on for more.

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2024 Predictions

Drug discovery. The use of AI in this field will make bigger headlines. For the past couple of years, money, and more importantly, AI talent, has been pouring into the biotech space. We will start to see new drugs and treatments enter the development pipeline. The groundwork will continue to be laid for major breakthroughs on the level of the discovery of penicillin about 100 years ago.

Computer-brain interfaces. They will make new strides toward treating people with major, debilitating diseases. Startups like Synchron, Neuralink, Precision Neuroscience, Motif Neurotech, and others are pushing the technology forward as rapidly as possible. And large language models are also helping translate signals from the brain into language, speeding up the process even further.

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AI safety. Worrying about an AI-fueled apocalypse went from a fringe idea to a mainstream philosophy this year. Talking points cited by well-funded AI safety groups reached the highest halls of power in Washington, London, and Beijing. In 2024, we’ll see whether that influence actually translates into policy. Regulators will spend more time tackling present-day AI harms, but expect a number of new measures safeguarding against potential existential risks, such as systems for monitoring who is building the most powerful models.

China tech. Despite a sluggish economy and new U.S. trade restrictions, China’s tech industry is still humming along. Homegrown e-commerce giants like Temu are making a killing abroad, while fast fashion juggernaut Shein is planning what could be one of the biggest IPOs of 2024. But Washington will keep finding ways to undercut China’s tech prowess. One of the biggest flashpoints next year will be over Chinese electric vehicles and whether they can be sold in the European Union and other overseas markets.

Quantum computing. Practical systems will begin to come into focus. Efforts by companies like IBM, Microsoft, and PsiQuantum to turn the technology from proof–of-concept to usability are underway, and we’ll see some promising developments on that front, which will energize the field.

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