Technologies in 2023 and Predictions for 2024. Part 2

December 18, 2023  |  Pierre Taner Kirisci

Navigating the Technological Landscape of 2023: From Edge Computing to Web3 and Metaverse

Continuation of DECODING TECH TRENDS: PIERRE KIRISCI EXPLORES AI AND BLOCKCHAIN REVOLUTION OF 2023

Edge Computing is also a significant technology. This has less to do with blockchain technology, but of course, it has synergies with AI. If you talk about industrial automation and robotics, we had a lot of these projects in the past, and I have been doing projects in that area. Originally, I come from the area of robotics and automation, and I am still following up on what is going on in that space since there are many interesting running projects in this area. With IoT – the Internet of Things, cyber-physical systems, edge computing, and other key technologies related to that in the industrial landscape, a lot of innovative projects emerged in 2023. Take for instance digital twins, where everything has a virtual or digital representation, and that physical object exists during its lifecycle together with that digital representation. So, if you change something on the physical side, the digital representation would change as well. These are interesting trends, which manifested more profoundly in 2023.

Coming back to blockchain technology, we can also mention non-fungible tokens (NFTs). There was a big hype on that in 2022. In 2023, that hype seemed to be cooling down, but when it was hot, everyone was excited about NFTs, which after all, is a solution for ownership, authentication, and verification of products and goods. Particularly, when we are talking about the tokenization of physical objects, for instance, the tokenization of real estate or the tokenization of digital assets, you can actually own certain fractions of a physical or a digital object.

For that purpose, it is necessary to know which goods are authentic, who has the true ownership of something, while this can be obtained and maintained with NFTs, which are protocol-wise related to cryptocurrencies. These are actually smart contracts, meaning these are set up in alignment to a certain standard of a smart contract, and then called NFTs.

So, imagine this as a kind of metadata of a physical or a digital object, which you can purchase and own. It could be, for instance, some consumer goods like sport shoes from Nike. It could even be a more valuable asset like a diamond, a luxury car, or a piece of art. Normally, you would get some kind of ownership certificates, but now, you can actually have an NFT, which is interwoven to that object. Then you can prove your ownership because that information is then embedded on a blockchain, while it is immutable and always remains there. Everybody can look into that data and you can say, ‘Okay, when I sell a car, I could sell a car together with its NFT, while I could prove that I owned this car’. You can see the whole history who owned it before me, who owned it before that, and so on. So, you can see the whole record of things. This was in fact also a topic, which was particularly popular at the beginning of 2023. But then, it lost traction, and the community started promoting Web 3.

Web 3 is still a big trend, and we are even at the very beginning. Similar with blockchain technology, as some people would say, ‘Okay, this was another trend and hype’. Personally, I don’t see it that way. I think we are still at the very beginning of adopting blockchain technology, the enabling technology for web3. Likewise, we are also at the very beginning of AI, and these technologies become more interesting and visible as soon as adoption plays out. This means as soon as blockchain technology is adopted in the market, and when we have real applications in operation. A good example are loyalty solutions based on blockchain technology.

I’m mentioning this as a particular example because I am working on a blockchain-powered solution with our German startup, Redimi. We have developed a loyalty platform which is based on blockchain technology. Usually, we don’t emphasize the technology, since blockchain is running on the backend. Although, we have digital assets, namely digital loyalty instruments which run on the blockchain, which are issued, validated, and redeemed on the blockchain, I believe, as soon as these kind of solutions go live, we will see more and more of them…

Also, regarding loyalty rewards, Starbucks, for instance, is a good example. They have introduced a reward system called Odyssey, which is also running on a public blockchain layer 2 blockchain. They’re even making money with this. The same holds true for luxury brands such as Bvlgari and Dolce & Gabbana. These are some examples of companies and brands experimenting and doing pilot projects with blockchain technology. This was happening in 2022, and happening right now in 2023. We will definitely see more of these things being adopted and going live, not only in that sector but also in other sectors which may not be that visible for the average person, such as the tracking of goods in logistics. This would be a good and high-quality example for using blockchain technology.

Everywhere where you have a trust problem, and often there is a  trust problem when  you work and collaborate with partners that you work with the first time, blockchain technology could be a good solution.

Coming back to Artificial Intelligence, I would even say we are at the very beginning – because – let us recap what was actually the aim of Artificial Intelligence…The theoretical idea was to have a kind of artificial general intelligence, which means something comparable to a human, even like a superhuman – a system or model that can do anything, namely anything a human can do and beyond that, while having its own notion or understanding of what it is doing. We are not there yet. Even though with solutions like ChatGPT. Just recently, there was this announcement of Google who developed a very similar model called Gemini, which connected to their AI model called BERT.

I don’t know exactly the details of this, but we can see more and more competitors coming up and competition going on among models, in the manner, ‘Okay, now we have a new model which can do the same thing, but better and faster’.

Then we have also been able to watch another phenomenon in this year. There’s a company in Germany, called Aleph Alpha. It was just funded with very big capital. This company is developing large language models like Open AI and Google, but for a very specific application, as for business applications. Because what you have seen with ChatGPT is more for the average daily activities, for general business, or for research activities. Even I am using ChatGPT almost on a daily basis, so I got used to it in some way. But I would say it is not as good as I would like it to be. I think we should be careful here, we should avoid exaggerating.

Lots of people tend to exaggerate and say, ‘Oh wow, this is going to be really big. It’s going to change everything’. I agree, generative AI will be embedded in many applications, which will come to the market. Nearly everybody supports this view. But currently, and it’s my personal opinion here, it’s not as good in performing specific tasks.

For the tasks I’m using ChatGPT, it could be improved. When I work with ChatGPT, I tend to talk with this model like I’m talking to a colleague, like I’m talking to a human. You can talk to it like a human, say, ‘Oh no’, ‘come on’, ‘You can do better than that’, ‘I don’t agree’, ‘Try again’, and so on. While doing that, you can actually fine-tune your results.

Let me put it this way. I think AI will actually change a lot of things, but I think the bigger difference will be made by people who can use AI, who know how to use these models. There are the next big jobs were they talked about prompt engineers in 2023. Maybe you heard of this – prompt engineers or so-called AI Whisperers, people who know how to optimize the input of these models. The average person wouldn’t really know how to do this. ‘Okay, the average person can easily use ChatGPT to write an email to a project partner, such as ‘Please give me some suggestions’ or something like that. But a prompt engineer would know exactly what to post as a prompt in order to optimize the result. These kind of experts are really sought after and very popular on the market, and I think this will still be popular within the next years in 2024-2025.

Finally, mentioning another topic, this was even quite relevant in 2023, we talked a lot about the metaverse. We have to mention this concept because when we think about, for instance, Facebook, we can associate the metaverse, and Facebook even changed their name to Meta to reflect this. However, I was a bit skeptic regarding metaverse, and wasn’t even really interested in this concept. But when we have the right tools and which are convenient for the user, which provide a very convenient and very nice user journey, then these technologies become more and more appealing, and as a result will become adopted in the market.

You can take, for instance, this product Meta Quest 3. You might know these mixed reality products, so-called XR headsets. You’ve probably seen this – the fans of gaming. This Meta Quest 3 just came out, one or two months ago. My son bought one of these, and I thought, ‘Why are you spending so much money for this kind of thing?’ And then he said, ‘Wait, don’t have any prejudice on this. You should try this’. And I said, ‘Okay, yeah’. And then I was trying this, and there was the realistic experience. I was shocked. Why? Because the experience that I made, maybe a kind of notion of the metaverse or maybe the first steps to this, was extremely realistic. I would say it was almost as realistic as real life. It is comparable when you’re standing there on the top of a 70-story building and looking down, my hands start to sweat, and I was afraid to take the next step. So, for me, it was almost the same feeling as really being there. This is what I experienced this just one week ago, and it changed my notion, as now I can easily say: ‘Wow, this is going to be a game-changer’. These devices are probably going to accelerate adoption of the metaverse. And today, I understand the impact of this concept much better.

When you talk about Generation Z and  Alpha, these are the people who grow up with these things. The immersive experience is quite normal for them. But for me, I belong to Generation X. Not a lot of people in my generation have the opportunity to get hands-on on these things. But since I’m a very technology-driven guy, as I’ve always been very enthusiastic and open about technology, I always try to stay up to date in new developments.

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