Tech.co's roundup of tech predictions has become an annual new year's tradition, and we've always introduced it with a quick look at what decades-old pop culture thought would be happening that year. 2022 was the year of Soylent Green, 2019 had both Blade Runner and Akira, and even 2021 had Johnny Mnemonic.
But the pickings are slim for 2023, aside from an X-Men sequel and one story from a 1980s Twilight Zone revival. In that episode, called “Quarantine,” a man from 2023 takes a cryogenic nap, waking up to find a world that has abandoned technology entirely.
Wait, on second thought, that sounds like a Utopia: All the rest you could want, followed by a world without any notifications or emails?
You might have a few centuries left before all technology is obsolete, but don't go to sleep just yet. We've sifted through over two hundred opinions from experts and industry insiders about what to expect in tech evolution across the next twelve months. These are the most fascinating predictions they had to offer.
What's to come…
- We Use AI as a Tool for Humans, Not a Replacement for Them
- AI Reaches the Music World
- Businesses Will Go Green. Or At Least Greener.
- Continued Software Supply Chain Instability Invites Large-Scale Attacks
- Browser Security Becomes a Top Enterprise Priority
- Increased Tool Consolidation Across the Cybersecurity Market
- The Rise of Digital Twins
- The End of the Fintech Boom
- We Start “Editing” Nature More
By far the most-predicted tech advancement for the new year? Businesses adapting more AI processes than ever.
While AI has been a buzzword in tech circles for years and years, actual use of the technology has not been widespread. But in 2023 — facing economic headwinds and tighter budgets — more businesses will figure out how artificial intelligence can help them on a practical level. Varun Ganapathi, Ph.D., CTO and co-founder at healthcare AI company AKASA, highlights that relation to financial instability, saying that “out of all software, AI is the most deflationary force. Deflation basically means getting the same amount of output with less money — and the way to accomplish that is largely through the use of automation and AI.”
And, since AI programs offer a modular solution, they're easier than ever for companies to adapt them.
“I like to think of this using a construction analogy: in the past, we built AI brick by brick. It was time intensive, and we needed experts to ensure every brick was laid with precision. Now, instead of bricks, the industry has evolved to use prefabricated homes that you can build in a day.” – Anmol Bhasin, CTO, ServiceTitan
But AI won't be so useful as to replace humans. Any job is a series of tasks, and AI is more useful at a set task than at an entire job. AI won't take over for anyone, because AI programs will still need executive decision makers to point them at the right problems.
“People thought the big hold-up for AI would be creativity, but ironically it may be the reverse. It may be that AI will actually help us become more creative — by seeding us with initial ideas that we can build upon and refine.” – Ganapathi
Sara Varni, CMO of Attentive, also argues that an economic-spurred push for optimization and efficiency will naturally lead to AI and automation, saying that “AI isn't just helping marketers write higher-performing copy or even telling them when to send messages—it’s helping us figure out what to send in the first place.”
In honor of AI, we generated our lead image for this article using an AI platform.
Interestingly, a few predictions singled out one industry in particular as ripe for AI aid: Music.
“I think artificial intelligence and machine learning will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of the tech world in 2023,” says machine learning engineer Amey Dharwadker. The creative arts are augmented, not replaced, by these types of tools.
“For example, machine learning algorithms will be used to create original music compositions and visual art, as well as analyze and classify different art and design styles.” – Dharwadker
Ramiro Somosierra, founder and editor at Gear Aficionado, cites existing services like Soundful, which allows for the creation of music tracks with a few clicks. “Probably the impact will not be that noticed in the mainstream, but I really believe that the ‘functional' music industry will be shaken up,” Somosierra says, referring to the field of background or beat music typically used for marketing or other content in which the music isn't the centerpiece.
“As someone with a deep interest in both AI and music, I think that finally, 2023 will be the year when we will start seeing this technology disrupt the music scene.” – Somosierra
With the EU shooting to be climate-neutral by 2050 and the US passing one of its greenest climate bills yet just last August, the global push to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions has seen headway. But many businesses have yet to get onboard with contributing measurable evidence that they care about the future of the planet as much as the future of their stakeholders' pocketbooks. 2023 may be a tipping point.
“2023 will be a year when both parties find common ground on the energy transition in order to lower energy prices, strengthen the country’s power infrastructure, and create skilled, good-paying jobs. The permitting reform from the incoming chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee aims to expedite permitting for all energy projects and grant a boost in wind installations across states, such as Texas, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Kansas, from the production tax credit.” – John Horton, CEO, CPower
With bipartisan support, Horton states, thousands of green jobs will be introduced to the local market, forming a symbol of national unity. Steve Raeder, CEO for Summit Ridge Energy, has a similar position, saying that the Inflation Reduction Act will provide strong tailwinds for long-term growth in community solar. But recessionary pressure is another reason why the energy issue is a tricky one.
“Ratepayers, particularly those with income levels below the median household average, need alternative, lower-cost energy solutions now more than ever.” -Raeder
Demand for home solar and electric vehicles is way up, indicating consumer interest that could drive the corporate world towards greater changes as well, such as better monitoring their hardware supply chain infrastructure to streamline it and reduce shipping waste.
But software supply chains will also have a big year in 2023:
Google is blowing the whistle on open source software vulnerabilities, with large-scale cybersecurity incidents like Log4shell shining a light on the consequences of failing to address risks. Major supply chain attacks seem likely to grow, even if recent executive orders to shore up the area for government vendors is a step in the right direction.
“We need to see more companies focus on strengthening their security practices, from considering a zero-trust approach to further securing infrastructure services (e.g. code signing, PKI, and hardening the release process).” – Zoom CISO Michael Adams
Some solutions could be bringing in third-party risk assessments, identity and access management, and timely patching. After all, the term “supply chain attack” can be misleading. The majority of the problems originate from mistakes or oversights that have left the chain open to attack in the first place. Seal those issues up, and you've halted a lot of potential attacks before they start.
“I believe that the bulk of discoveries arising from improvements in supply chain visibility next year will highlight that most threats arise from mistake, not malice.” – Jon Geater, Chief Product and Technology Officer at RKVST.
Supply chains aside, experts predicted one additional cyber-battleground will be a top concern in the new year: Web browsers.
In just the last two or three years, we've shifted towards remote and hybrid workplaces in a big way. And that's transformed the web browser from an innocuous home application to a fundamental workplace productivity tool, points out Tal Dery, co-founder and CTO of Red Access.
“For the average enterprise employee today, the web browser functions more like a central operating system than just another application — serving as their primary gateway to the digital world of work. In 2023, we’ll see browsing security and management go from a secondary consideration to a central concern and point of security for organizations both large and small.” – Dery
Other remote-first work developments might include advancements in AR meeting rooms or meaningful shifts towards cloud computing, even in industries that have resisted cloud technology in recent years, such as government agencies or the financial sector.
Cybersecurity might be improving, but that doesn't mean it's expanding. In the new year, expect to see your security department striving to avoid any signs of bloatware or any new tech stacks that aren't fully justifiable. But that's easier said than done.
“There’s no hiding that the cybersecurity market is overly complicated. In our experience, it has been extremely difficult for customers to decide which technologies are crucial and which are extraneous – as every new product on the market claims to be the ‘silver bullet' for malware.” – Lalit Ahluwalia, CEO & Global Cybersecurity Lead, Inspira Enterprise
And, since our experts also predict that 5G will usher in even more “internet of things” devices in the near future, the need for a streamlined, effective cybersecurity strategy will be greater than ever.
Ahluwalia notes that closing gaps in security tech and closing inefficencies with integrating it are two major ways to shore up existing defenses. The key here is to shift the security focus to a desired outcome – and then figure out what the really essential tools are to achieving it.
Speaking of cutting out any tools that aren't essential, we see heavier corporate use of digital twins in the near future.
Businesses are relying more and more on digital twins when seeking real-time feedback on new processes or products. This term refers to a software simulation designed to replicate a real-world device or devices. With digital twins, businesses can see how a new item, or system might react in certain environments or stressors, letting them pick apart the strengths or flaws behind a new design or material at a fraction of the time and cost that a physical stress-test would require.
Manufacturing industries love this tool, since it delivers quick and accurate predictions of error.
“The data in point clouds can be used to create digital representations of real-world objects; supply chains can be built and optimized; processes and pieces of machinery can be automated with the help of technologies like AI; safety can be enhanced; quality control and predictive maintenance can be perfected. Construction, aviation, healthcare, and academia, among others, will all see dramatic improvements in efficiency and cost savings as a result.” – Steve Rose, Vice President, MoneyTransfers
Maya Natarajan, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Neo4j, also predicts the continued rise of digital twins, thanks to their broad functional versatility.
“Whether it’s construction, supply chain, or cybersecurity, digital twins offer analytical capabilities that enable organizations to gain complete visibility into their inventory, networks, vulnerabilities, and more.” – Natarajan
Not every industry will fare well amid a constricting economy, and the warning signs are already showing for the fintech sector, which had been booming in the decade leading up to 2020. Data from investment management firm Finch Capital shows fintech funding hit $6 billion in 2020 and $19 billion in 2021 – only to drop 25% across 2022.
Fintech won't collapse, but growth will keep slowing, predicts Matt Smith, the CEO and co-founder of compliance technology and data analytics firm SteelEye.
“The number of new fintech firms founded is down 85% since 2020. Market consolidation continues, and fintech M&A spiked in the first half of 2022, with 591 recorded deals.” – Smith
We Start “Editing” Nature More
OK, perhaps it'll take a few more years after that to safely perfect our customization abilities. But the potential is there, according to James Rehm, Chief Operating Officer at Skuuudle. Once perfected, the process can be similar to word processing, allowing us to delete or replace specific genetic material.
“I think we're headed toward a future where we can modify anything from DNA to entire ecosystems to see how they work together. As a result of advancements in nanotechnology, we will be able to design materials with novel properties like resistance to water and the ability to repair themselves. Even while CRISPR-Cas9 has been available for a while, the pace at which gene editing technology is developing in 2023 will greatly increase our power to ‘edit nature' by modifying DNA.” – Rehm
Applications for the gene editing process might include eliminating food allergies or creating healthier farm crops, as well as the correction of DNA mutations.
This will all usher in plenty of debates on the ethics, of course, but that's nothing new for the tech industry, where data privacy laws and questionable AI database biases are regularly discussed. One thing's for sure, if gene editing really does take off in the new year then we'll be getting some good Black Mirror episodes out of it.