The forth of my speculative thought pieces reflecting on significant developments of -6m/+6m in tech as I see them. This one is special because it reflects on 2022, which was a year of changes for me, and looking into 2023 which, I believe, will be a year of big changes for the market and technology.
Looking 6+ months back, three key themes defined technology in 2022:
1. Economic reset:
It's easy to say that markets and economies (or broader macro environment) are in a state of fear. Hence, funding winter for startups continued. Lean times forced everyone, including big tech, to look into improvements in capital efficiency and business model sustainability. Big tech layoffs were a surprise for many, albeit they're just a restructuring of the internal workforce - everyone who laid off people is continuously hiring on the other end.
2. Platform regulation ramps up:
Landmark antitrust bills advanced, app stores faced legal challenges, and algorithm audits increased accountability for tech giants. The long-anticipated regulation is making waves, especially in Europe. Some big fines were given, and I expect more missteps, that will continue making Europe hard place to be for tech companies, from European law makers.
3. Web3 finance house of cards:
Several leading crypto exchanges and projects based on "smart" balancing mechanisms crumbled. Some because of bad math, some because of simple theft and investor ignorance. Cleaning the house of cards was necessary, but a bad reputation is not gonna help blockchain mass technology adoption.
The good thing is that blockchain networks (especially Ethereum) scaled technically and corporate demand is growing.
Moving forward into 2023, the next six months will bring:
1. AI creativity surge:
Models like DALL-E, Midjourney, and Stable diffusion will enable a new wave of creativity and forms of synthetic media. It's like inspiration coming to the next billion people's homes. Expect text-to-movie and personal Netflix-like streaming, including an opportunity to change the direction your movie takes as you watch it. Well, these are a bit of "far away" future wishes, but we'll get there.
ChatGPT and other LLMs like it will inspire and enable a new wave of startups that will redefine the ways how we work, both for consumers and enterprises. If you can dream it, you can code it.
2. Climate tech boom:
There are growing numbers of corporate net zero pledges that shall accelerate startups innovating in carbon sequestration, green hydrogen, microgrids, and sustainable food systems. Let it be said that microgrids represent a serious pricing problem for national grids and functional electricity network regulation, so we'll see price increases in fix costs of electricity provisioning.
I put within climate tech also expected boom in the usage and production of lab-made meat and vegetable proteins. I believe someone has to start making sense of all the carbon footprint bullshit we were fed for the past several decades.
3. Web3 pains still growing:
Crypto/NFTs slide will continue. There's no reason why adoption should grow. I only see the same people already interested and vested in the space being there. Scaling challenges, security issues, scandals and regulation non-clarity, and a limited delivery on the promise of decentralization all come together in 2023.
So I don't believe in crypto bull-run, but the vision still burns bright.
In 2023 we may have a chance to see real deflation - both the good and the bad parts of it.
The good part would be massive technology-enabled cost and price decreases which would lead to massive revenues and profits, while the bad part could be the upending of many industries, high economic volatility and many jobs lost or transformed.
But I believe necessity remains the mother of invention. The foundations laid in previous years - cloud infrastructure, remote collaboration tools, crypto networks, and LLMs - provide the building blocks for the next wave of transformation. The future might as well be text-to-coded now.