By Nicholas Larsen, International Banker
Looking back on the technology world of 2023, it is fair to say that it was indisputably the year of artificial intelligence (AI). With sophisticated machine learning (ML) techniques and neural networks powering highly advanced conversational chatbots, such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, AI never more accurately reflected human cognition than it did last year.
This year will see the global fascination with AI balloon further as businesses, individuals and even governments continue experimenting with the exciting creative innovations being unleashed with increasing frequency. And that means key trends will emerge that will guide AI’s evolution in 2024.
- Generative AI (GenAI) will continue to transform the business world.
As 2023’s undisputed tech breakthrough with the release of ChatGPT, generative AI (GenAI) is now set to scale even greater heights in 2024 as the next generation of systems and applications advances beyond the chatbots that captured imaginations last year. Indeed, with McKinsey & Company projecting in June 2023 that GenAI will add the equivalent of $2.6 trillion to $4.4 trillion annually across 16 business functions and 63 individual use cases, it is widely anticipated that enterprises will drive many of the most exciting aspects of GenAI’s evolution this year.
For one, enterprise-AI customisation is gathering steam, with businesses increasingly embracing tailored GenAI applications. “These applications are designed to meet specific business needs by integrating proprietary data and help to ensure more accurate and relevant responses,” Karan Sachdeva, IBM’s global business development leader for strategic partnerships, recently explained. “This trend signals a move toward more efficient and personalized AI-driven business solutions. For example, a global retail chain might adopt region-specific AI models that are trained on data, such as customer preferences and cultural nuances. This approach results in highly personalized customer interactions.”
Enterprise-AI customisation will also extend to the workforce, with companies increasingly expected to give their employees more freedom to use GenAI. “We know that nearly two-thirds of employees are already playing around and experimenting with AI in their job or in their personal life,” Forrester Research analyst Michele Goetz recently told enterprise data firm TechTarget. “We really expect that this is going to be more normal in our everyday business practices in 2024.”
And while 2023 was the year for AI enablers—the first line of hardware and software companies that play into the GenAI debate—Morgan Stanley stated it expects 2024 to be a fruitful year for the “adopters”, or those companies leveraging the enablers’ software and hardware to use their own data better and monetise it for the AI world. “Of course, we’re only in the early innings of the AI revolution, and the market is still treating these adopters as a ‘show me’ story,” Ed Stanley, Morgan Stanley’s head of thematic research in Europe, noted in a January 9 podcast for the US bank. “We think that 2024 is going to be transformative for this adopter group, and we expect to see a wave of product launches using large language models and generative AI, particularly in the second half of 2024.”
- Multimodal AI
Through GenAI, 2023 saw the widespread use of sophisticated large language models (LLMs) that revolutionised digital interactions across specific data types, such as a body of text or a particular image. The natural evolution of such achievements in 2024 will be the emergence of multimodal AI, whereby systems will increasingly be designed to interpret and process data from diverse data sources, including texts, images, audios, videos and codes.
So, rather than simply having the unimodal system focus on a single dimension, such as image recognition, multimodality upgrades the system to handle different types of data and information comfortably. This versatility can prove hugely useful in enhancing user experiences across many applications and solving complex problems. As such, multimodality will be crucial as AI’s next evolutionary stage—that is, interacting with the world in a manner that is more comparable to human behaviour.
Indeed, the transition from unimodality to multimodality will prompt considerable innovation across many industries. “For instance, during a customer service call, AI can analyse a client’s spoken request, interpret their financial documents and assess their facial expressions in a video consultation,” IBM’s Karan Sachdeva noted. “By synthesizing these data points (speech, text and visual cues), AI can provide more personalized financial advice and enhance creditworthiness assessments with precision.”
A November 2023 report from market research firm MarketsandMarkets, moreover, forecasted the global market for multimodal AI to grow from $1.0 billion in 2023 to $4.5 billion in 2028 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 35 percent during the forecast period. The report cited key factors likely to propel this market growth, including “growing demand for analysing unstructured data in multiple formats, the capacity of multimodal AI to tackle complex tasks and offer a comprehensive problem-solving approach, the acceleration of multimodal ecosystem development through Generative AI techniques, and the accessibility of large-scale machine learning models that support multimodality”.
It should be mentioned that all of this hype would ultimately mean little if consumers could not get their hands on the latest products and services that have integrated these latest innovations. In 2024, diverse offerings will showcase the technology, while smartphones will become more indispensable than ever.
Indeed, January saw Samsung Electronics debut its Galaxy S24 range of mobile devices, complete with “new mobile experiences” through Galaxy AI. “AI amplifies nearly every experience on [the] Galaxy S24 series, from enabling barrier-free communication with intelligent text and call translations, to maximizing creative freedom with Galaxy’s ProVisual Engine, to setting a new standard for search that will change how Galaxy users discover the world around them.”
Another profound consumer trend resulting from AI’s progress set to come to the fore this year can be found in computing, with many predicting laptops will undergo a new “super-cycle” of replacements and upgrades to accommodate the latest advancements. According to Morgan Stanley, 40 percent of laptops will be replaced in 2024 before rising to 65 percent next year. “We anticipate a market-defining ‘super cycle’ in the PC starting in 2024, where the need for new laptops and the advancement of AI will drive a new era of PCs,” says Kedar Kondap, Qualcomm Technologies’ senior vice president and general manager of its computer and gaming business. “This innovation is not just an evolution in the PC market, but a revolution, driving the demand for AI PCs forward and reshaping the computing experience for businesses and consumers into the new year.”
On January 22, investigations in New Hampshire revealed an apparently “unlawful attempt” at voter suppression after robocalls impersonating President Joe Biden instructed people not to vote in the US state’s recent presidential primary election. According to experts interviewed by NBC News, which first reported the scheme, the robocall was fake audio designed to mimic Biden. “All signs point to it being a deepfake,” said Ben Colman, chief executive officer of Reality Defender, a company that creates software to test media files to determine if they were artificially generated. “We never say anything’s 100% certain, because we do not have the ground truth, but it’s highly likely manipulated.”
It is highly unlikely that the New Hampshire incident will be the last in which we see AI used to distort the truth and have a maligning influence on voters. With the rapid proliferation of deepfakes—using powerful AI and machine-learning techniques to manipulate media, such as facial imagery and voice sound—the notion of truth across the global political sphere will continue to come under threat. Indeed, in what will be one of the world’s most important election years in recent times, AI could play a crucial role in swaying voters’ decisions at the ballot box.
“In the political arena, the upcoming US presidential election in 2024 presents fertile ground for the manipulation of public opinion through deepfakes,” according to Michael Wade, professor of innovation and strategy at the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) and director of IMD’s Global Center for Digital Business Transformation. “The technology’s sophistication continues to grow, blurring the lines between genuine content and manipulated falsehoods. This potential erosion of trust in the authenticity of political figures raises serious concerns about the integrity of the democratic process.”
The corporate world is also likely to experience an uptick in AI deepfakes that will most commonly be used to tarnish reputations, spread misinformation and conduct extortion or blackmail schemes. To combat this, companies “are urged to exercise caution, with some digital leaders like OpenAI’s Altman adopting unique online writing styles to authenticate their communications,” Wade also advised.