Fractured tech policy, easy-to-use AI and emotional recognition: stories to watch in 2023
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It’s been a big year in tech: the race to build the metaverse, the rise and fall of non-fungible tokens, chaos in the crypto sector, amazing views of galaxies far, far, away and research breakthroughs that will change the way we live.
Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams and “Marketplace Tech” producers Jésus Alvarado and Daniel Shin discuss what stories they’ll be following in 2023.
The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.
Kimberly Adams: So I’m going to take this one first and latch on to a story I’ve loved covering in 2022 and I think is going to still be big in 2023, which is space and space exploration. There is more money, more interest, more research going into expanding [into] space, potentially mining and space, getting ready for the Artemis moon missions. And I do think that we’re going to continue to see just sort of the development of the space economy. It feels like there are launches every other day now, and each of those are loaded with experiments. More and more countries are getting involved. And I think that’s going to keep being a story for the next year. Daniel, what about you? What do you think?
Daniel Shin: Well, I don’t know if you’ve heard of this thing called generative artificial intelligence tools. They may have come across your radar?
Shin: OpenAI, that kind of stuff, that’s only going to get better, there’s only going to get more money into this space. We’re all expecting a bit of [an economic] slowdown, and people are going to want to invest smartly. I have to imagine that this is one big thing. These tools are being used by everyone, not just engineers or coders — doctors, copywriters, audio editors, like myself (I don’t use it right now). But it’s pierced this veil and gone beyond just folks who are technically proficient with this kind of stuff, and it’s going to be a central focus for cultural discourse next year, in regards to just what value is a piece of art or a piece of work by an AI bot. It could supplement or enhance or replace labor, I think a lot of folks or companies are going to look that way. This space is just going to continue to grow, whether you want it to or not.
Adams: Yeah, and there’s already a lot of people raising red flags about ways that this might be harmful. But yeah, definitely a story we’re gonna have to watch in the coming year. Jésus, what do you have your eye on?
Jésus Alvarado: Well, on the heels of artificial intelligence, I’ll be for sure looking at what people are now calling emotional recognition technology, which of course uses AI and a mix of even biometric data. So for 2023, I will be looking at that and see how that expands, because right now, it’s not used at scale. But of course, when we talk about artificial intelligence, especially biometric data and facial recognition, we can’t ignore that, you know, there might be some implications that come with it. And so I’ll be interested in seeing what potential algorithmic biases or even privacy issues come out of this technology. But Kimberly, what else are you looking out for in 2023?
Adams: Well, as you know, I’m here in Washington, D.C., so I cannot ignore the policy story. It’s a divided government with the Republicans in control of the House, Democrats in control of the Senate and the White House, which means it’s going to be really hard for tech legislation to move forward. But I do think that on the regulatory side with the federal agencies, we’re gonna see some action, especially with the spectacular collapse of the crypto industry. It’s really giving federal regulators an opening to kind of zoom in and maybe set up some guardrails around some of these new products around crypto and [decentralized finance] and NFTs and all these other products. Daniel, what other predictions do you have?
Shin: I mean, related to the fractured nature of the tech policy landscape here, and it relates to sort of a thing we’ve been exploring regularly, is the constant sort of retreat into our own online spaces, and just sort of being a bit more divided and kind of going into our own enclaves. You know, we’ve seen the rise of more conservative platforms, Truth Social, Gab, that kind of thing, the rise of Mastodon as an alternative to the spaces like Twitter, and I don’t see any sort of existing app or the possibility of a new app coming up and disrupting the popularity of things like TikTok or strong players like Twitter, like Facebook, like Instagram.
Adams: Right, because I guess as we’re retreating to our own individual corners of the internet, it allows these ideas to sort of percolate in darkness and then burst out into the public sphere online and kind of go everywhere. Jésus, switching gears a bit, what else are you looking ahead to for 2023?
Alvarado: You know, we threw out the word policy and legislation and whatnot. On those topics, I am going to be looking out for what new climate tech startups come up in 2023. We saw this past year the Inflation Reduction Act being signed into law, which allocates $370 billion into climate and energy projects. So yeah, I’d be interested to see what new players come into the space with tangible solutions and tangible innovations that sort of help us adapt to this changing climate, which, being here in California, we sort of experienced the heat of living through two to three weeks of triple digits. So we are all feeling it, and that is what I’ll be looking out for in 2023.
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