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In 2023, Technology is the glue

Two pieces of technology caught our imagination last year. Firstly, September, saw the launch of Apple iPhone 14. But did anyone notice the improvements from its earlier version 13? Actually, most of them were unnoticeable. Though RAM increased from 4 GB to 6 GB, no one would have noticed the change in performance. The only perceptible change was that it costed Rs 12000 more.


Second was the Meta’s virtual reality headset Meta Quest Pro, that creates immersive experience in design, allows checking out a living room in virtual space and lets one be across the table, while being anywhere in the world. Mark Zuckerberg thought this would revolutionise the workplace. Did it? In all probability, people may have used it only to play games. However, one cannot discount their future potential.


Social media too went berserk. We know only too well what happened with Twitter. Tesla CEO Elon Musk bought it for US$44 billion and fired top executives, including its CEO Parag Agrawal, its chief financial officer Ned Segal, along with its legal and policy head Vijaya Gadde. Several others joined the procession. He even suspended the accounts of some journalists and techies that must have sent the markets crashing.


In response to the social mayhem, Musk asked his followers on Twitter in a “poll” a month back, if he should step down as its CEO. Almost 10 million users, said yes, but Musk said he would step down only when he finds someone “foolish enough to take the job.” One wonders if he was only posturing.


A couple of years back, India banned TikTok, a short-form video sharing platform, primarily for lip-syncing and dancing videos, that had more than 200 million users in India at the time, over national security concerns.  More than a dozen American states, have banned the app’s use on government-issued devices in the US over similar reasons. Yet TikTok generated an estimated $11.6 billion revenue in 2022, a 250% increase year-on-year with more than 1.5 billion monthly active users, expected to reach 1.8 billion by the end of 2022.


Whatever that may be, social media is in for a big transformation what with web3.0 tools. Mastodon, a social network that looks similar to Twitter is the new craze. Many in the younger generation already use newer apps like BeReal, that allows groups of friends to even share selfies on the fly.


In this technology driven world, what can we see in the new year? Probably a lot more of ChatGPT, a chatbot owned by OpenAI, an AI research company. Unlike ELIZA, an early natural language processing (NLP) computer program created in the 1960’s at the MIT AI Lab, that could only converse, this one has great linguistic competence, can generate intelligent responses to questions, could compose essays, write code and draft business proposals.


A lot more of AI, advances in electric cars and metaverse will be seen in our daily lives. Research in NLP may see the new chatbots building automatic language generation, with tools that structure how we read and write text. Apps like MS Word and Google Sheets may even embed AI tools to streamline workflows.


Today, technology is more encompassing and wireless. Probably, Virtual Reality could reshape our lives similar to the smartphones in the past. Though Quest 2, HTC Vive and Sony PlayStation were essentially promoting games, they would eventually find their niche in education. Apple probably will lead the way.


We could even see Metaverse as the virtual space where we work, collaborate and create. The technology that powers this could become a multitasking tool for us, streamlining our meetings while we scroll emails and do other tasks. However, for this to come true, wireless headsets which remain bulky and hence limited to indoors, need to transform too.


Charging technology and availability of charging stations is still WIP. However, with research enabling any charging station to charge any EV, electric vehicles will sure be more ubiquitous this year with manufacturers like Ford Motor, Kia, General Motors and Audi ramping up their production lines in addition to Tesla. Can we expect a radical decision to be made in this month’s budget? Could there be a cap on the production of, or even ban sales of, petrol/diesel powered cars by 2035? That will be moving with times.

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