AI in everything, everywhere, all at once, say Davos experts

OpenAI’s ChatGPT may have got the Internet talking, but the world can expect artificial intelligence to get even smarter in 2023, experts at Davos reported

With half a trillion dollars worth of AI investments expected in 2023, the world needs to prepare for artificial intelligence to be integrated into all aspects of business and life, experts predicted at the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting 2023 in Davos this week.

Speakers emphasised that technology can bring about shared prosperity and innovative solutions to pressing global issues. However, they also acknowledged that the rapid pace of technological advancement poses a risk to current institutions, creating the potential for uncontrolled risks. 

Experts warned that these dangers are further intensified by geopolitical conflicts, growing polarisation, and an impending climate crisis. They emphasised the importance of leaders taking action to harness technology for positive outcomes.

At the end of 2022, OpenAI's interactive conversational model, ChatGPT, quickly gained over a million users in just five days, sparking a new conversation about the possibilities and hazards of artificial intelligence. As AI investments are projected to surpass US$500 billion in 2023, there will be rapid advancements in adaptive and generative AI. 

Adaptive AI can continually adjust its models to learn and adapt based on new data without needing developers to rebuild it, resulting in faster and improved results. Generative AI employs neural network models to generate new things, such as text-to-image and text-to-video generators, which appeal to consumers but also raise important concerns about disinformation, inappropriate content, and algorithmic biases. Regulators and online watchdogs will closely monitor this area in the coming year.

“As the late French cultural theorist Paul Virilio observed, when things work in new ways, they also break in new ways,” says Sebastian Buckup, the WEF’s Head of Network and Partnerships, Member of the Executive Committee. “When we invented the ship, we also invented the shipwreck. The same holds true for new technologies – and the stakes are high.”

The rapid pace of technological change should not be viewed with fear, but rather as a call for humility and caution, says Buckup. As technology advances, new developments must be implemented on a large scale to address the world's most pressing challenges. The rewards for successfully doing so include more robust economies and stronger societies. Buckup urged leaders to be mindful of the progress and the effort it takes to maintain it, rather than fearing it.

The Davos technology experts highlighted other technology trends which will see a great deal of disruption and innovation in 2023, including:

Renewable energy reaching a turning point

Advancements in technology over the past decade have significantly reduced the cost of solar and wind power, making them more economical than fossil fuels. Some estimates predict that transitioning to renewable energy sources could save economies around the world US$12 trillion by 2050.

Hyper-connectivity and cyber-resilience

Economic and geopolitical factors may push globalisation into decline and fragment cyberspace along political lines. However, technological progress is driving increased connectivity. In 2023, 15 billion devices will be connected to the Internet of Things (IoT), which is expected to double by 2030. The rapid expansion of 5G coverage will also contribute to this trend by allowing for faster communication and improved device performance.

Quantum computing R&D

Quantum computing utilises subatomic particles to create new methods of processing and storing information and is considered the future of computing. With the ability to operate at significantly faster speeds than current processors, quantum technology has the potential to solve complex problems in a fraction of the time.

Gene editing becoming mainstream

CRISPR-Cas9, the gene-editing technology that earned its developers the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, was primarily used as a research tool. However, since the first person received gene-editing therapy three years ago, it has been used to treat various conditions such as congenital blindness, heart disease, and sickle cell disease. In 2023, we can expect to see a further expansion of gene editing in medicine and other sectors, leading to a multi-billion-dollar industry, and raising complex ethical issues.

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