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If you are old enough, you might remember when personal computers first came out. Sure, we’d had computing machines for years before that that used vacuum tubes, punch cards and magnetic and paper tape. They took up the entire basement of buildings. But the PC revolutionized the world. And while people flocked to this innovation, many were scared, sure that it would ruin the world. Softwares like spreadsheets were going to eliminate accounting jobs. Computer Aided Design software like AutoCAD was going to put architects and engineers out of work. Interestingly, the opposite happened: these softwares created more jobs and more opportunities.

Then, we got the internet. Computers all over the world were now connected and again, people flocked to this innovation. Yet people were concerned that by having everything connected, it would spell the end of the earth. In fact, at the turn of the century, much of the world was convinced that Y2K would mean that airplanes would fall out of the sky, banks would fail, and the power companies would create a type of Armageddon. All because of a programming glitch based around how we handled dates in the software, further exacerbated by the fact that now all these computers were connected. In the end, rather than causing the end of the world, the internet flourished, and today it is a part of our daily lives.

Then came the cell phone. Again, we’d had portable phones for years, although you might have had to carry it in a briefcase or have it permanently attached to your car. When cell phones first came out, they did one thing: make phone calls. You might be able to text if you were willing to push a button multiple times to create a letter such as pressing the number 7 four times to make an “S”. Then Samsung manufactured a chip that allowed Apple to introduce the original iPhone, which contained not only a phone, but an MP3 player and a camera.Again, cell phones have now become part of our daily lives, and most of us can’t imagine life any other way.

Like these other innovations, AI has been around for years. Even Generative AI has been around for six decades. In 2015, Autodesk began publishing research on Project Dreamcatcher, a generative design tool that uses algorithms to create new designs. Users can describe intended properties such as materials, size and weight. In 2018, OpenAI released GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer). Trained on about 40 gigabytes of data and consisting of 117 million parameters, GPT paved the way for subsequent LLMs in content generation, chatbots and language translation. But in November of 2022, in just a matter of months, the launch of ChatGPT has catapulted generative AI into the social consciousness. Many consider 2023 to be the year of AI as over 50% of companies started using AI in their businesses. People who had never heard of the term a year ago were suddenly proclaiming themselves as experts.

When examining historical accounts, such as those in history textbooks featuring illustrations and monochrome photographs of 19th-century Californian gold seekers, we observe a timeless human trait: the pursuit of prosperity and the willingness to venture into uncharted territories. This spirit persists, but the context has evolved significantly. Today, we stand at the forefront of a modern, sophisticated, and globally encompassing “gold rush” – one that is focused on the realm of artificial intelligence (AI). This new era is marked by a rapidly advancing AI technology, which is attracting immense interest worldwide. The AI revolution is set to open up unprecedented opportunities, reshaping industries, education, healthcare, and various other facets of human endeavor in ways we are just beginning to imagine.

At the same time, many people are scared that AI will mark the end of the world. The fears surrounding AI, such as job displacement, warfare, political manipulation, and apocalyptic scenarios, are often exaggerated. Here’s why these extreme outcomes are unlikely:

  • Job Transformation, Not Just Loss: While AI will automate certain tasks, history shows that technology often creates more jobs than it destroys. It changes the nature of work, leading to new industries and opportunities. For instance, the industrial revolution led to a shift from agrarian societies to urbanized ones, creating new types of jobs and industries.
  • Regulations and Ethical Standards: Governments and international bodies are increasingly aware of the potential risks of AI. This awareness is leading to the development of regulations and ethical guidelines to ensure AI is used responsibly. The emphasis is on creating AI that augments human capabilities and adheres to ethical standards, rather than replacing or harming humanity.
  • AI in Warfare is Controlled: The use of AI in military applications is a concern, but most nations are aware of the potential catastrophic outcomes of uncontrolled autonomous weapons. There’s a growing movement for international agreements to regulate or ban lethal autonomous weapons, similar to bans on chemical weapons and atomic bombs.
  • Safeguards Against Political Manipulation: The threat of AI in manipulating elections or spreading disinformation is real, but it is also being countered by AI-driven tools that detect and mitigate these risks. Efforts are being made to improve digital literacy and develop technologies to identify and stop such manipulations.
  • AI’s Limitations: Current AI technologies, including advanced ones, are far from being sentient or capable of independent, human-like reasoning. They operate within a narrow scope defined by human programmers. The fear of AI developing consciousness and turning against humanity is more science fiction than a realistic outcome based on current technological trends.
  • Collaborative Human-AI Development: The development of AI is a collaborative human effort, involving ethicists, sociologists, and other experts, not just technologists. This multidisciplinary approach ensures that AI is developed with a consideration of its societal impacts.
  • Global Cooperation: There is a growing global dialogue on the ethical and safe development of AI. Countries and international organizations are collaborating to set standards that prevent the harmful use of AI while promoting its benefits.

While AI does present challenges, the apocalyptic scenarios often depicted in media and fiction are not supported by the current trajectory of AI development. But, if humans are going to run down this path (as they have with the other technologies I mentioned), what can we expect to really happen? While no one knows for certain, especially long term, here are my predictions for what we can expect in 2024:

  1. Advances in AI in 2024 will dwarf what we saw in 2023. This will be fueled by competition such as Google Gemini trying to compete with OpenAI who release ChatGPT4.5 in the first half of the year and ChatGPT5.0 later in the year. Which will again raise the question of if we have achieved AGI.
  2. Custom AIs by niche will thrive. Rather than having to rely on large generic models, industry-specific, and even business-specific models will become commonplace as they will require less computing power.
  3. Multi-model interactions like the ChatGPT / Dall-e integration will explode as we see more music and video inputs and outputs. Models will be able to use videos as input much like we see with text and image inputs now.
  4. Legal issues over copyright are going to require law makers to finally put laws into place that account for this technology. Old laws and cop-outs like “AI generated content cannot be copyrighted” are going to be addressed, but the legal battles will heat up and the debate will only be fueled by these new regulations.
  5. Text to video will be as legitimate as text to text and text to image was in 2023. We will see fully HD videos being generated entirely by AI.
  6. AI hallucinations will become less and less. Getting text correct in images will finally be overcome.
  7. Deepfakes are going to get even better and cause a real ethical problem, especially as it relates to elections. Nefarious uses of AI is going to be as commonplace as email and phone scams are today. This is about to get real.
  8. Education systems are finally going to get an overhaul as things like college entrance essays are no longer valid ways to determining intelligence. This of course will have an impact on businesses as well, including all content creators such as authors, photographers, musicians, producers, and even coders. Schools will have to learn how to adopt to these technical innovations, much like they did when calculators became mainstream.
  9. Beyond just being able to create a cube or a cylinder, 3D models will become viable, with AI capable of generating 3d designs in CAD systems.
  10. We are going to see at least one major shake out in the AI industry. It almost happened with the OpenAI / Sam Altman fiasco, but this time something will happen for real and at least one AI business or partnership will blow up. Perhaps OpenAI and Microsoft?

Let’s visit this again next year and see how close my predictions are. I’d love to know your thoughts.