By Johan de Villiers
Welcome to our first eZine edition for 2023!
Seeing that we are at the beginning of a new year, it is only fitting that we predict some of the amazing technologies that may come to bear this year. Although we have severe challenges in the economy, both locally and global (including the ongoing Ukrainian war), there is a lot to be optimistic about for this year.
Predictions are always fraught with danger, but without a doubt this year will be dominated by conversations about ChatGPT. For those of you who still don’t know what it is, a quick breakdown:
ChatGPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) is an AI program released by a San Francisco-based startup OpenAI.
It’s a free online tool trained on millions of pages of writing and programming databases from around the globe to understand and respond to text-based queries in just about any style you choose.
“ChatGPT is a computer program that uses artificial intelligence (A.I.) to understand and respond to natural language text, just like a human would. It can answer questions, write sentences, and even have a conversation with you. It's like having your own personal robot that can understand and talk to you!”
Now for interest sake, the above paragraph was written by ChatGPT when I asked it to explain itself to me!
The power and comprehension of this AI program has the ability to change the world in much the same was as the smartphone or internet did. Of course, both good and bad actors will have access to this computing platform, so let’s see how this plays out. Content and copy writers, poets and programmers may all be looking for work in the not to distant future.
But without further ado, let us look at some of the other macro issues that we will be facing this year:
Before venturing into the tech landscape, we need to assess the economy as it currently stands. Supply chains have been subject to severe disruptions and shutdowns over the last two to three years, owing to most governments not dealing with the pandemic very well.
With most economies open for business again, there is a pent up demand for stock worldwide. The increase in global interest rates and the improved manufacturing capacity of factories will lead to excessive inventory, which in turn will deflate pricing.
Companies that cut marketing during this period will underperform those that focuses on demand generation instead, in order to grow market share.
Without a doubt, the ongoing war in Ukraine will continue to affect pricing on everything from fertilizer to oil prices. China’s war mongering with Taiwan will also be a distraction to their economy, on top of their failed Covid zero policy on the domestic front. America has enabled the CHIPS Act, which seeks to limit the export of any AI Technology or high grade semiconductors to China going forward. Ukraine was a big player in the ASICS chip set market before the war with Russia. This lack of manufacturing capability will affect everyone, from self-driving vehicles to data centers for the next couple of years.
2023 will be the last year of the current generation of EV vehicles, before the next wave or Gen 2 series of vehicles hit the market in 2024. The new generation of EV cars will have significantly faster charging capabilities and a dramatic increase in range, compared to what we currently have on the road. Driver assistance software & in-car entertainment will also undergo evolutionary changes this year, as battery technology improves. The exception to this, would be vehicles from Rivian and Lucid, that already produce Gen 2 series cars, in terms of innovative technology. The global transition to green energy, away from fossil fuels, will accelerate EV adoption across all markets.
Personal Flying Vehicles
PFV are set to take off in a big way this year. Already Jetson One and the Israeli company, AIR, are producing flying vehicles for the retail market. In reality these are scaled up drones, which are relatively cheap to manufacture and that can carry humans as payload. The technology requires no piloting skills to operate and therefore a recreational flying license would be all that is required to own and operate your own flying vehicle.
Expect a huge increase in suburban noise complaints and remember that a flat battery at altitude can be a fatal exercise…
Expect to see better conversational AI on smart phones this year, as technology such as Siri improves. Also, smartphone vendors will release rollable displays that should be a game changer. Apple will face multiple new contenders in their market space, which will be good for the consumer. Realtime video streaming, camera software improvements and new AI digital assistants will be released before year end on the high end handsets. Wireless charging will become commonplace for most phones this year.
Anyone not born under a rock, will have noticed the meteoric crash of Facebook’s (META) share price in the last two years, since Mark Zuckerman decided to bet the house on something called the metaverse.
Quite frankly, nobody has really figured out how to implement this, how to make money from it, or whether we actually needed it in the first place.
My prediction for 2023, is that the consumer side of the metaverse is a mess and will therefore decline this year. Until a company, such as Nvidia, figures out how to convey the benefits of the metaverse to the man on the street, we will have to wait for this technology to mature.
AI and Robotics
AI will revolutionize the healthcare industry in 2023, as it will be used more widely to create new remedies and cures and assist with conversational interfaces for patients in order to alleviate the workload for understaffed medical workers. In other industries expect to see robotic bartenders, robotic security solutions and a massive increase in robotic personal assistants for those that can afford it. Increasingly automated fast food restaurants will pop up, with zero human staff. The robotic wave will be truly with us at the end of this year.
We have seen some promising breakthroughs on the subject of fusion power, which can potentially solve the world’s energy problems in the next decade or so. Other predictions that may or may not pan out is that Twitter might fail under Elon Musk’s poor management style, with a resultant loss to Tesla shareholders thru his lack of focus. Smart Agri is also advancing rapidly with vertical farming, autonomous disease detection, crop yield optimization and robotics becoming common place.
Companies in South Africa will have to lock down the hatches this year and protect their market share, as the available pool of money (budgets) continue to shrink in an inflationary environment. If you do not fiercely protect your clients and market share, your competitors will likely help you out instantly.
With that, thank you for your continued support of First Technology, Western Cape.
Johan de Villiers
First Technology Western Cape