This guest post is a part of Technology of the Future Month 2022 in Technical.ly's editorial calendar. This month’s theme is underwritten by Verizon 5G. This story was independently reported and not reviewed by Verizon 5G before publication.
As a futurist who lives and breathes technology, I am always excited to write about the top technological trends for the upcoming year. This is my third year in a row. The forecasts made last year included more spending on the metaverse, greater use of cryptocurrencies, and a golden era for telemedicine — and they proved to be quite on point!
Now, here are my predictions for some of the top tech trends for 2023 as the holiday season brings an end to 2022.
1. The metaverse is here to stay, and Meta is leading
Say the word “metaverse” and people are still confused about what it means. Facebook parent company Meta has poured in billions this year alone to make their vision of a more connected and realistic world take shape. In the first nine months of the year alone, Meta lost $9.4 billion on its metaverse unit, Reality Labs. More losses are expected in 2023. The company rebranded itself from Facebook to Meta in fall 2021 in hopes of increased adoption in the space.
While the stock has taken a beating this year, if there is one CEO I would not bet against, it’s Mark Zuckerberg. He started the company as a college sophomore in 2004, and his companies today — like them/him or hate them/him — are used by half the world’s population. As of Oct. 26, Meta’s total monthly users for its family of apps numbered 3.71 billion worldwide.
But wait, what is the metaverse and why is Meta trying to lead this ecosystem?
The metaverse is a digital realm combining technology such as virtual reality, augmented reality and video where users exist in a digital universe. The promise of the metaverse is to allow a greater overlap of our digital and physical lives in wealth, socialization, productivity, shopping and entertainment. Streamlining connectivity and making everyday interaction feel more realistic is what this technology aims for.
The Meta Quest Pro is the company’s latest flagship headset. Priced at a lofty $1,499.99 it promises to be a big improvement from its older versions. Early reviews are so far a mixed bag, or neutral. Meta’s goals are ambitious and it wants to be the most dominant player in the ecosystem.
- Prediction: The foundation for the metaverse and the age of augmented and virtual reality will continue to be built in 2023. As with any emerging technology, the headsets and the technology that powers them will eventually become more affordable. The “metaverse” ecosystem will attract more developers, which should increase adoption. The metaverse is positioned to be fundamental in the future of working, unwinding, gaming, eating, and spending time with friends and family, but it will take some time before it is widely adopted.
2. Adoption of blockchain, crypto, Web 3 and CBDCs will increase
What a year for cryptocurrency it has been! Its market cap has dropped by 75% from its peak of almost $3 trillion in late 2021 to just $.8 trillion at current writing. The slide was accelerated by numerous exchange bankruptcies and numerous multi-million-dollar hacks. It has, to put it mildly, been a really difficult year.
However, usage and use cases are expanding daily, which gives me hope for the future. Not all coins or exchanges will succeed, but those that do should be well-founded initiatives with practical applications and advantages. Decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), nonfungible tokens (NFTs), decentralized finance (DeFi), cryptocurrency, and the blockchain’s underlying technology will all continue to be disruptive forces, be it for logistics, cross-border payments, identity management, security, AI, big data or the cloud.
The bankruptcy of Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX was the biggest news of the year. A run-on deposit left the company owing customers $8 billion, setting off a chain of events that have shaken the crypto world and driven investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the US Department of Justice. This time last month, the $32 billion cryptocurrency company managed billions of dollars’ worth of customer assets; now, FTX could owe money to more than a million people and organizations.
Since its inception, the space has faced numerous challenges. But as companies develop more decentralized goods and services, including the development of Web 3.0, blockchain technology should continue to have a greater impact on more industries in 2023 than it did in 2022.
What is Web 3.0, or Web3?
The first website was created in 1991. You can still view it here. The internet has evolved since then to more than 5 billion regular users, roughly 63% of the world’s population. Web 1.0 was the static web, 2.0 dynamic — what we have as the internet now, where a user can read/write — and 3.0 is the decentralized internet. 3.0 will be token-based and built on blockchain; the user can read/write/own. While Web 3.0 can be built around various paths, DeFi, NFTs and DAOs are a few technologies that are used today.
Today feels much like the late 2005 when YouTube was launched. It marked a pivotal point of the Web 2.0 revolution, which marked the internet’s departure to an era of dynamic content.
- Prediction: Many countries will be using a central bank digital currency, or CBDC, by the end of 2023. Expect stronger legal frameworks around the crypto industry, including crypto coins and exchange licenses. Web 3.0 will continue to take shape over the next few years, helping creators be owners of their content at a whole unique level.
3. Advanced artificial intelligence means robots and autonomous driving
In September, Elon Musk of Tesla showcased two prototypes of the Optimus humanoid robot. He stated that within the next five years, Tesla would be ready to accept orders. These machines will be capable of carrying out straightforward activities like lifting objects and watering plants.
In 2023, technology will advance further, and robots will resemble humans more and more. Although the development of robotics is amazing, I was perplexed by recent news regarding the San Francisco Police Department: It’s considering allowing law enforcement robots to use lethal force against a suspect. Now, the SFPD has 12 operational robots. It is controversial, and several robotics companies signed an open letter saying that general-purpose robots should not be weaponized. While lethal force will probably be used during warfare between countries, it is too early to predict if they will be used against a country’s own citizens. I pray not. Time will tell. (Note the White House’s “AI Bill of Rights” outlining five principles to make artificial intelligence safer, more transparent and less discriminatory.)
Increased investment in AI is greatly benefiting the autonomous vehicle market. Automakers are using AI and AVs at an increasing rate (and much of that tech is being developed in Pittsburgh). Money and competition are increasing, resulting in faster expansion than before. The Society of Automotive Engineers, or SAE, defines six levels of driving automation ranging from 0 (fully manual) to 5 (fully autonomous). Level 5 vehicles do not require human attention, so the “dynamic driving task” is eliminated. These cars won’t even have steering wheels or acceleration and braking pedals. Level 5 is still in testing phase.
- Prediction: Robots will serve as greeters, bartenders, concierges and companions for senior citizens in the coming decade. They will carry out monotonous, repetitive duties in homes and factories all around the country. Expect rules and procedures to emerge about autonomous driving and robots using lethal force against a nation’s own citizens.
Technology is by far the most significant invention of our time. As new foundations are being established throughout important industries, we are at a turning point. These developments will aid future human evolution. I could not be more delighted and excited about what the future holds as an optimist futurist!
Knowledge is power!
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