Each year we reevaluate the situation. We want to understand the main trends and prepare. What are the main trends of the most likely “near” future, and which preparations can benefit us? This is a summary of my personal analysis for the coming year, focusing on subjects that interest me.
Should we expect a massive change?
Every year it may be wonderful to know what revolutions are likely to happen in that particular year. Since 2022, the world is slowly destabilizing politically with various forms of decreasing globalization. There are long technological and social cycles interacting with this phenomenon creating new threats and new opportunities.
Nobody fully understands the crypto cycle. In 2022 FTX collapsed, and it took markets almost a year to recover, due to an investigation of related blockchains. Since the investigations take time, we do not know when the resulting legal actions will be taken.
There are also positive notes. 3nm chip technologies will probably be used in GPUs for the first time in the second half of 2024, improving by 30% the energy efficiency of the miners. There are elections in USA that might require untrackable crypto donations. Quite possibly, cryptocurrency will spike again in 2024, up until the next big scandal. I think the spike will also introduce a new generation of blockchain technologies, probably making the cryptocurrencies more robust.
Rising military defense concerns will increase strategic investment in quantum computers by all major players as a part of investment in cyber branches of the relevant countries. With so much money invested into quantum computers and quantum computing environment introduced by Nvidia in 2023, we should expect massive use of quantum computing in 2024-2025 on large projects like weather prediction models. We should also see a proliferation of encryption algorithms robust to quantum computer hacking, possibly as new protocols for social media communications. Access to quantum computers will probably be closely guarded and limited to specialized companies, government bodies, and enterprises.
Solving scientific riddles
Currently, one of the biggest advances in science is generated by artificial intelligence. Some of the most influenced fields are computational biology, material studies, and astronomy. We should expect a revolutionary level of progress in these fields.
It is almost impossible to predict revolutions. I would probably love to see an emerging new cure for Alzheimer’s. The chances for the emergence of such a cure in 2024-2025 are really high. We are also likely to see new solar systems, potentially suitable for human colonization in some far future. There is a high chance of establishing a new high-density laser-based communication with satellites.
In a somewhat longer lead, we are likely to see the initial use of Nueralink for paralyzed patients and new protein folding solutions with unimaginable applications.
Foodtech reaches maturity
The biggest change in daily lives may appear in the most unlikely area of the foods that we consume. New foodtech factories will produce milk and meat without animals on a truly mass scale with price tags and quality initially competitive to the real thing, and possibly exceeding the real thing. This is a very positive indication for activists: vegetarians, animal rights activists, global warming “enthusiasts”. Between the adoption of electric cars and the potential reduction of cows headcount, technology might provide means for reducing greenhouse emissions. This also means that whether we like it or not, what we eat and how we eat is likely to change.
Somehow all big companies expected massive adoption of augmented and virtual reality technologies which did not materialize. This does not mean that such a revolution is unlikely. Some applications may include remote traveling and conferencing, productivity improvement with large virtual screens, AI-generated 3D models. The technological limitations to effective virtual and augmented reality applications are disappearing. Probably the main obstacle is smart glasses. Once we have adaptive glasses and sunglasses, additional applications for such glasses will probably appear. An example of such technology: DeepOptics provides the world’s first adaptive-focus sunglasses. The main question here is timing: we may well expect a huge change in the glasses people wear, but it is very hard to predict when we will experience an “iPhone moment”.
I cannot seriously write anything about AI trends. These trends change very fast, faster than any other technology. There are many scales of AI projects. Outcomes of huge projects, like huge generative AI models, are a part of our daily lives, and they are getting smarter. Medium-sized AIs are taking copilot positions in activities like driving or writing. Small AIs are integrated into household devices – and here the unexplored potential for the change is truly massive. We see smarter vacuum cleaners, smarter refrigerators, security systems, music players, and even lights. It is reasonable to expect a large number of new specialized solutions to deal with an ever-increasing number of challenges. By now multiple and diverse AIs are a part of our personal ecosystem, even if we do not really notice them.
I would love to have some news regarding any good cognitive revolution. So far the results are less than encouraging. During the first half of the 20th century there was a strong IQ increase in the developed countries, partially due to better food sources. Then there was a minor drop possibly due to massive lead poisoning from car exhausts. And further minor drop possibly due to sugar-rich processed food consumption. We can also talk about noise pollution, short focus span, and echo chambers of social media. So far the people in developing countries are getting smarter, while developed countries are importing smart people to deal with the decreasing intelligence of the indigenous population. This is a very controversial statement, I admit.
In any case, those who want any sort of cognitive revolution currently need to be proactive. Fortunately, such a proactive approach to self-improvement is slowly getting mainstream adoption. With an incredibly high cost of formal education, self-education is the great equalizer of our era.
Is anything of this actionable?
Clearly, one can invest in cryptocurrency and learn to understand and interact with AI. These steps are almost trivial. Other changes are less clear. If we expect that new cures will be created, how can we react?