What are the future digital trends for 2023 and beyond?

"Artificial intelligence will not destroy humans. Believe me,"

GPT-3, OpenAI's language generator tells The Guardian.

Easy for a machine to say. "But what about our jobs?" you ask.

That's been the age-old debate ever since AI was first conceived in the wake of cybernetics - way back in the 40s.

The thing is: AI isn't going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, throughout 2023 and beyond it's only going to become more widely adopted. But this is just one of many digital trends that will reshape the way we work and live our lives.

Hang on to your headset, the future starts here...

Stop the press: the growth of generative AI

Everyone seems to be talking about generative AI lately. But what is it and why's it on the rise?

To find out, we asked the biggest authority in the field.

"Generative AI is a type of artificial intelligence that is able to generate new content based on a given prompt or set of examples. This can include generating text, images, music, or other types of media. There are a variety of techniques that can be used to build generative AI models, including machine learning algorithms such as neural networks and evolutionary computation."

But these aren't the words of the world's leading AI scientist - or even your run-of-the-mill human. Instead, it's the programmed prose of ChatGPT by OpenAI.

Scary, right?

Even more impressive is the fact that, as OpenAI states on its site, the model can interact in a "...conversational way" and even admit its mistakes.

Time to close the chapter on human-written comms then....

Not so fast.

"It is unlikely that generative AI will completely replace copywriters, as the creation of high-quality written content often requires a combination of creative thinking and technical skills that cannot be fully automated. However, generative AI can be a useful tool for generating ideas or rough drafts that can be refined and edited by human copywriters."

So, humans and AI can coexist and even help each other. Who'd have thunk it?

Despite ChatGPT still being in the beta stage, generative AI is already out there and lightening the load for humans as we speak. Its real-world applications include:

  • Text-to-image translation

  • Text-to-speech generation

  • Speech-to-speech conversion

  • Speech-to-text transcriptions

  • 3D shape generation

  • Changing photos to emojis and inpainting

  • Super-resolution in images (recovering high-resolution quality in low-resolution imagery, e.g. in surveillance)

  • Finance apps, receipt generation and other everyday aids

That's just the tip of the iceberg, though. This is an exciting field that's continuing to develop - so watch this space.

But what about the other spaces we're starting to inhabit?

Making room for the metaverse

You've probably heard enough chit-chat about the metaverse by now. You might have even seen some clunky attempts at "meeting" inside this virtual space for business.

Suffice to say, there's still a way to go before that next big marketing conference takes place in the metaverse.

However, it is already having real-world applications outside of gaming - and useful ones too.

Some companies are using virtual reality and augmented reality technology to create immersive experiences for their customers, e.g. virtual tours of real estate properties or 'try-on' options for 3D clothing and other products. Other businesses are starting to use virtual environments to hold meetings, conferences and other events - great for remote collaboration, whilst reducing the need for travel. Of course, there's also the traditional use of tech; businesses can use the metaverse for online gaming and other interactive entertainment experiences.

With that in mind, metaverse headsets are now becoming more widely available. However, they'll likely need to become even more accessible, e.g. like today's smartwatches, for this trend to stand a chance of going mainstream. In fact, this year's CES 2023 showcased a variety of glasses-free 3D displays - an exciting development in the world of VR.

So although we're still a way off from this virtual universe becoming our default destination, perhaps 2023 is the year we start to see the world becoming a bit more "metaverse ready". You never know.

But as we make plans to move into one space, we're leaving others in droves.

Decentralisation and the demise of social media

OK, we're not writing off social media just yet. Especially considering Instagram is expected to increase its number of users by 400 million in the next couple of years. That's an increase of 38.46% in just five years.

But the likes of TikTok have definitely caused a shift in the market. The media broadcasting app has changed the way users create and consume content - perhaps irreversibly so. In fact, TikTok has now been downloaded a whopping 3.5 billion times worldwide; it's only the 5th app to accomplish this and the first non-Meta-owned app to do so.

Pretty impressive.

Still, even as far back as 2019, the tides were starting to turn on social media's immense popularity. 2018's Cambridge Analytica scandal - as well as countless other well-publicised data breaches since - have done nothing to reassure users.

But there are numerous other reasons why someone might decide to check-out of social media, including the mental health impact and the amount of misinformation and fake news now circulating around on these platforms - Twitter being a major culprit.

Speaking of which, the number of global monthly Twitter users is predicted to fall by nearly 4% this year and 5% in 2024 -- that's more than 32 million in total. That's no drop in the ocean.

So what else is going on?

Well, there's a growing desire for digital trust online - and rightfully so. This trend is leading to a growth in more decentralised social apps such as Telegram replacing the likes of WhatsApp. Essentially, decentralised systems can have a number of benefits for users. These include increased resilience, privacy and security - making it more difficult for cyber attacks. What's more, these types of peer-to-peer systems are more open and transparent, whilst also providing more opportunities for innovation and collaboration.

Is this future for a public that's growing more and more distrustful of mainstream social media? We'll see.

2023: the birth of Web 3.0 and beyond

You might also see the term Web 3.0 (not to be confused with Web3, e.g. blockchain technology) being thrown around online a bit more this year.

OK, but what is it?

Web 3.0 is a term that is sometimes used to describe the next evolution of the World Wide Web. It's still widely disputed in the tech community but one possible concept for Web 3.0 is that it'll be a more intelligent and intuitive web.

OK cool. But how, exactly?

Essentially, through advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning. This could enable the web to be more personalised and responsive to the needs and preferences of individual users. Not only that, the theory is that it will be able to perform tasks and make decisions on behalf of the user. Nice.

Other ideas for Web 3.0 include:

  • the integration of virtual and augmented reality into the web

  • the development of a truly decentralised web that's not controlled by any single entity

  • the emergence of new forms of content and media that are not yet imaginable.

Scared? Excited?

These developments represent a fundamental shift in the way we interact with technology and with each other, and have the potential to significantly impact a wide range of industries and areas of society.

However, it's important to note that these trends are also accompanied by new challenges and ethical considerations, as we continue to grapple with the implications of an increasingly digital world.

Therefore, it's important to approach these trends with both excitement and caution, as we work to fully understand and harness their potential while also mitigating potential risks and negative impacts.

At least, that's the conclusion that Chat GPT provided.

There's no doubt that this is a pivotal time for digital, but where we end up in the upcoming years won't be down to AI. Nope, that one's on us.

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