As we close out 2022 and look ahead to 2023, we can discern two themes emerging that may set the tone for the coming year: the promises and perils of our virtual lives. Welcome to 2023.
Viva Magenta vs Space Karen
Each year Pantone Color Institute nominates a defining shade for the year. Viva Magenta 18-1750 is Pantone’s recently announced Color of the Year, is a vibrant shade of red, meant to express a joyous, optimistic celebration. And according to the institute, it’s inspired by the red of cochineal, an electrifying shade that signifies self-expression without restraint. Expect to see tones of red across the webosphere.
Speaking of self-expression without restraint, the new Twitter boss who makes business decisions by polls, has been branded Space Karen for the virtual huffiness and petulance on display. The collapse of FTX is another disastrous tale of hype and digital excess. Expect to see more tales of tech’s excesses meeting with reality. The Magentaverse is a useful metaphor to explain the current state of play, where arbitrary choices act to define trends and there’s fierce competition to own virtual spaces and define digital narratives.
Looking ahead, it’s reasonable to expect the drive for innovation will continue advancing toward Web3 while regulators seek to redress the balance around online privacy, the power of algorithms, antitrust and digital platform dominance. Legislators in the EU are leading this, looking to rein in at least some of the power of Big Tech and the US is also making moves in this direction.
Humans vs the Bots
There’s been a lot of talk, quite a bit of handwringing and even some doomsday predictions about ChatGPT, the AI writing tool developed by the team at OpenAI. It’s creating scarily good written material, except that it can be largely plagiarised, devoid of human tone and factually loose while sounding plausible. As a writer for hire, I’m certainly taking note of developments in these kinds of sophisticated writing tools, but I don’t see myself being put out of a job, just yet.
I tend to agree with those who caution about the inevitable hype cycle with new technologies that moves from excitement to fear to being under-whelmed. In the end, we right-size these new technologies so they have their role while we focus on the business of being human, something that’s machine-proof. But there’s no denying that these generative AI tools will find business use cases, writing or rewriting simple things like press releases or social copy as well as generating tasks list, documentation and distilling complex documentation into summaries. However, they will also find nefarious use cases, such as creating phishing scam emails and malicious code. The question becomes, are we humans entitled to the pretty tools? Already the warnings are being sounded.
On the subject of AI, I wrote a story about OpenAI Codex that translates natural language into code and my interview with Labor MP Andrew Leigh about this book on the potentials and threat of AI superintelligence.
AI vs CO2
Here’s an AI good news story to show its potential for helping with critical problems the world faces, which isn’t making writer redundant. On the path to Net Zero, tracking CO2 emissions in real-time will play necessary to do away with self-reported carbon emissions that can be inaccurate and out of date. But it’s easier said then done. Now there’s a new initiative that’s working to use AI and ML to enable more transparent, up-to-date reporting of carbon emissions. Climate Trace is a groundbreaking project to analyse more than 59 trillion bytes of data from more than 300 satellites and 11,100 sensors, and numerous additional sources of emissions information from around the world. As they say, “By tracing the root of the climate crisis, we’re working to help solve it.”
What an I reading, listening to and watching?
Voices of us by academic and writer Tim Dunlop considers how the independents’ movement that made such an impact at the last election is changing Australian politics. He has an engaging Substack blog where he analyses the interplay between the media, politicians and politics among other things.
With the new year on our doorstep, it’s that time of year when we look back and then quickly look forward and I like to revisit Oliver Burkeman’s column on the eight secrets to a (fairly) fulfilled life. I like how he offers a qualification on that goal.
The Economist’s The World Ahead podcast that looks at possible scenarios for the ahead times.
Main Image: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
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