An AI Pause, Apple’s Bad Year, Small Media Rising, Big Data: 2024 Predictions

Let’s talk 2024.

John Battelle

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2023 was a down year on the predictions front, but at least I’ve learned to sidestep distractions like Trump, crypto, and Musk. If I can avoid talking about the joys of the upcoming election and/or the politics of Silicon Valley billionaires, I’m optimistic I’ll return to form. As always, I am going to write this post with no prep and in one stream-of-conscious sitting. Let’s get to it.

  1. The AI party takes a pause. The technology industry — and by this point, the entire capitalist experiment — is addicted to boom and bust cycles and riddled with blinkered optimism. In 2023 we allowed ourselves to dream of AI genies; we imagined trillions in future economic gains, we invested as if those gains were a certainty. In 2024, we’ll wake up and realize — as we did with the web in the early 2000s — that there’s a lot of hard work to do before our dreams become a reality. I’m not predicting an AI crash — but rather a period of digestion, with a possible side of Tums. Corporations will find their initial pilots less impactful than they hoped, and when told of the sums they must spend to course correct, insist on cutting back. Consumers will become accustomed to genAI’s outputs and begin to rethink their $20 a month subscriptions. Growth will slow, though it will not stagnate. Regulators around the world will take the year to move past Terminator nightmares and into the hard work of deeply understanding AI’s societal impact. IP holders — artists, newspapers, craftspeople — will press their lawsuits and infuse the market with uncertainty and hesitancy. In short, society will take a pause that refreshes. And that will be a good thing.
  2. But Progress Continues… It may feel like a pause, but below the tech media scorekeeping narrative, a growing ecosystem of AI startups will make important strides in areas that will matter beyond 2024. AI is driven by data, and as a society we’re not particularly good at structuring, governing, or sharing data. It makes sense that big companies with access to unholy amounts of structured data pioneered the AI era. (Of course, if you’re not a big company, and you want access to massive amounts of data, it helps to just take it without asking permission). But the AI-driven startups that will make waves…

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John Battelle

A Founder of The Recount, NewCo, Federated Media, sovrn Holdings, Web 2 Summit, Wired, Industry Standard; writer on Media, Technology, Culture, Business