Tech Themes: Reflecting on the First Half of 2023, Predicting What’s Next

Let's talk about the recession that's not happening, LLM's infiltration everywhere, AR/VR hopes revival, biotech, robotics, and autonomous transportation advancements.

Here are my speculative reflections on the tech industry in mid-2023 and predictions for the next 6 months; one thing I can say right now is, everything is happening slower than expected except LLM's infiltration into all aspects of online work & life.

Looking back on the last six months, some major themes were:

1. Limited recession ripples:

The economic downturn is lower than predicted, at least on paper and in official numbers. But consumers and businesses feel impacted way more than numbers say. Traditional indicators like layoffs, ad spending, and startup funding are all in red, and consumers see inflation-induced "bad news" every day when shopping.

The jury is still out on deflation signs. US successfully exported their inflation through the dollar to everyone else, including us in Europe, and NASDAQ is growing again!

2. Platform breakups NOT happening:

The landmark tech antitrust bills, potentially leading to the beginnings of large platforms splitting parts of their businesses into separate entities, are still on ice in Congress.

Here are a few quotes from 2021 articles that now seem entertaining:

"The antitrust bills could potentially harm innovation and consumers.”
“Passing the bills would mark a historic overhaul of antitrust law, which was established more than a 100 years ago to rein in the unchecked power of railroad, oil and steel magnates.”
“Big Tech never loses a legislative fight – and they just did.”

3. AR/VR hopes revived:

Apple's official announcement of the launch of Vision-Pro has revived hopes for virtual reality playing a major role in the future of work and collaboration, not just entertainment.

I have my reservations about Vision-Pro, but it will certainly be an impressive piece of tech with many interesting app adaptations for the AR/VR world, and that will be worth exploring. So the usefulness of such headset will be up 100x, but I wouldn't say the same for usability. It will still be you having clunky, ugly, heavy ski-goggles on the face.

The key themes for the rest of 2023 will be:

1. Artificial intelligence inflection:

We've seen exponential improvements in LLM models and thousands of new tools launching every month with old & new use cases, and we'll see yet more of it. There will be an intense fight for dominance with attempts for regulatory capture and (unfortunate) consolidation of power/usage among top LLM players.

In the second half of 2023, we will see some major productivity use cases unlocked through AI usage by current or new productivity tooling providers. Generative AI will be applied across all sectors.

2. Biotech breakthroughs:

Rapid advancements in synthetic biology, gene editing, and drug discovery powered by AI could enable breakthrough treatments for major diseases coming from startups or major pharma companies.

I expect some exciting announcements in 2023. Even though it's probably not gonna be genetically modified humans just yet.

3. Robotics & Autonomous transportation:

It seems clear now that rollouts of robots and drones will accelerate across industries. From warehouse operations, delivery, and cleaning to elderly care.

The same goes for robotaxis and autonomous freight delivery, which will make major strides toward commercialization at scale in certain locations based on technical milestones achieved by companies like Tesla and Waymo.

Secret guess: when Tesla robotaxi happens, Tesla will double its current $930B valuation.

While economic uncertainties loom, there are exciting tech breakthroughs to watch for in 2023.

The foundations for the next platforms are being built now, AI brick by AI brick.