If 2023 was the year when visions of an AI-driven future went mainstream, 2024 will be a year of progress toward harnessing AI's power for the benefit of all. The following trends represent neither beginnings nor ends in store for the new year. Rather, they are areas where we'll likely see sharper focus and bigger strides in support of this technology's rapid acceleration.
The rampant spread of AI for personal and industrial use is currently stunted by the limitations of existing technologies that can meet AI’s tremendous processing demands. At the same time, conditions are ripe for a run on hardware that powers AI systems as our appetite for AI applications and in-house AI systems grows. Also, beyond increased demand, we have an ecological responsibility to meet the proliferation of AI with more sustainable, more efficient ways to power these systems.
2024 is poised to be a year of progress toward satisfying these mounting needs. In the coming months, we’ll likely see the debut of new hardware offerings and advances in emerging technologies that will either deliver or optimize the considerable power AI systems—especially large language models—require. We also anticipate that 2024 will be a year for great strides in quantum computing. According to some predictions, we may see the benefits of quantum computing in areas such as drug discovery and in the optimization of traffic flow in the year ahead.
Despite the promise of progress on this front, processing power will likely remain a vexing hurdle in the race toward widespread AI adoption. However, as we grapple with these technical challenges, we have the opportunity to prepare ourselves for the impact AI will have on human society, as reflected in two other trends we’ll be watching in 2024.
With the spectacular debut of ChatGPT, public interest in the unintended social consequences of AI heightened in 2023. This is a welcome development. The time is now to identify AI’s potential pitfalls and create the legal, ethical, and regulatory frameworks to avoid them.
Just in the latter part of 2023, we saw sweeping governmental responses to AI-related challenges through measures such as the provisional agreement reached for the EU Artificial Intelligence Act. In the US, President Biden issued the Executive Order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence. Efforts to get ahead of challenges related to the proliferation of AI systems have been ramping up, and momentum in this area is sure to pick up in the coming year.
In the US, federal agencies will establish AI-related regulations to address issues such as conflicts of interest stemming from the use of AI by broker-dealers and investment advisors and intellectual property rights for AI-generated inventions and new works. Some states, as well, have been stepping up to the legislative plate to tackle legal concerns arising from the use of AI with measures tackling automated decision-making and discussion of anti-deepfake legislation ahead of the 2024 election.
Other AI-related issues begging for legal and ethical attention include privacy, hiring discrimination, bias, and antitrust regulations. In this climate, one thing is certain: companies using AI will need to create internal processes for monitoring evolving regulations, disclosing their use of AI, securing consent for the collection and use of data, and ensuring transparency and explainability of their AI models.
Staying on top of these evolving guidelines will also make way for the growth of some existing roles, and the creation of new roles, in the workforce. This brings us to the last trend on our list of the top trends for 2024.
One of the most hotly debated and eagerly anticipated effects of AI is the impact it will have on our working lives. We expect much of the speculation will give way to action in the coming year as organizations and employees alike prepare for the workplace of the future.
Change certainly is on the horizon for the workforce. Research suggests that the equivalent of three million jobs across the globe could be automated thanks to AI, and the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Future of Jobs 2023 report predicts that six in 10 workers across the globe will need training by 2027.
Take heart, however, because one of the best ways to avoid being replaced by AI is to become empowered by it. A recent survey found that, while one in three companies expected to replace employees with AI in 2024, 96% of companies hiring in 2024 said that candidates who have AI skills will have an edge, and 83% of companies said that having AI skills would help existing employees keep their jobs.
Widespread adoption of AI will require skills that support both the implementation of emerging technologies and the management of their broader impact. For example, as regulations governing the use of AI develop, organizations will need more workers who can monitor AI models for accuracy of outcomes, account for bias, or navigate relevant legislation. Some roles that we think will become more critical in the days to come include AI ethicist, prompt engineer, cybersecurity expert, and natural language processing specialist.
We will likely begin to see a rise in demand for workers with capabilities in technical areas, such as machine-learning engineering, cloud computing, and big data, accompanied by an increased need for very human skills, such as empathy and critical, creative, and analytical thinking. According to the WEF report, survey respondents ranked analytical thinking and creative thinking in first and second place respectively as the top skills of 2023 and the top skills on the rise. Ultimately, we feel confident in predicting that workers will thrive as long as they have an aptitude and affinity for ongoing learning.
The AI-driven future we envisioned is upon us. 2023 was a landmark year for AI’s grand entry into the public consciousness, which prompted us to take a closer look at what we want this technology to deliver—and what we don’t want it to deliver. This much-needed reckoning is coming not a day too soon, and we anticipate that 2024 will be a year of tremendous progress toward creating a brighter human future with AI.
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