Written by Mark Sullivan, senior writer for Fast Company.
Judging from my Twitter feed, 2022 was a very noisy year for tech. We followed the Elon Musk drama, marvalled at the creations of generative AI, watched crypto markets tank and FTX implode, and (some of us at least) gazed deeply into the metaverse—and yawned.
Things could get more serious in 2023. More governments around the world may put checks on the tech industry’s power by placing restrictions on how it does business. The Supreme Court will decide whether social platforms can be stripped of the special legal protections they get from lawsuits over user content. As generative AI (such as ChatGPT) begins finding real application in business, the lack of transparency of the technology, and its unintended consequences, may make headlines.
Those are just the broad strokes. Again this year, I opened my Rolodex looking for the smartest and best-placed people in and around the tech industry to offer their 2023 predictions. I asked startup founders, Big Tech execs, VCs, scholars, and other experts to speculate on the coming year within their field of interest. In all, we collected more than 40 predictions about 2023. Together, they offer a smart composite look at the things we’re likely to be talking about by this time next year.
AI AND ROBOTICS
Emad Mostaque, founder and CEO, Stability AI (Stable Diffusion)
In 2023, a wide range of open-source AI models will drive adoption across enterprises toward the end of the year as many of these models mature and become better understood. These models will likely take a year or two to become easily used however, and enterprises will need significant help in this transition period. The biggest opportunity in AI is combining models of different types to handle mixed media input and output. This really blurs the boundaries between human and computer and is something with the potential to disrupt many industries rapidly.
Andrew Feldman, CEO and cofounder, Cerebras Systems
I believe generative AI is underhyped, not overhyped. With this technology, the problems of translating from any language, to any other language, will be completely solved. We’re going to be unable to tell the difference between human-generated content and AI-produced content—across written content, video, digital art, and more. We see the AI market growing exponentially, and in 2023, we expect to see an AI company passing $50 billion in valuation.
Lama Nachman, director of intelligent systems research lab, Intel Labs
Next year, I believe there will be more focus on progressing generative AI, advancing human/AI collaboration and responsibly developing AI technologies so they do not marginalize people, use data in unethical ways or discriminate against different populations. As thousands of companies across all industries continue to make AI breakthroughs, 2023 will be a foundational year for the industry to collaborate and transparently share learnings to mitigate risk and further drive innovation.
Shan He, senior director of engineering, Foursquare
It’s been talked about for years, and we have seen many encouraging business applications using machine learning to optimize operations and improve user experience. . . . We have also seen new emerging businesses focusing on different stages of the machine learning development life cycle to train and productionalize ML models to real world applications. Right now, businesses everywhere are trying to do more with less and coping with a changing tech talent landscape. This will lead to more reliance on technology, and an increased need for optimization.
Rodrigo Liang, cofounder and CEO, SambaNova
We see companies prioritizing AI investments to drive cost savings in the immediate term to weather the macro-economic challenges, potentially making room for growth investments in prioritized areas of the business in 2023. Foundation models are enabling many of these breakthrough AI capabilities that are delivering value that was not previously possible. Given the economic climate we’re in, we foresee the government and the most forward-looking organizations (banks, research organizations, oil, and gas companies) leveraging AI to drive ROI and cost savings in text-heavy workflows like fraud and compliance, customer service, and operational efficiency.
Diego Pantoja-Navajas, VP, AWS Supply Chain
We are looking forward to better, more predictive supply chains that can anticipate what customer demand cycles will be, as well as anticipating what likely supply chain risks will be and ways to overcome them. Advances in AI and machine learning move quickly, and we believe that supply chains will benefit from these developments in a very significant way in the coming years.
Ashok Srivastava, senior VP & chief data officer, Intuit
Generative AI . . . needs to develop and mature before it can safely be used in industries where the accuracy of statements are critical, such as in finance or medicine. Within the next several years, generative AI will likely play a pivotal role in helping create personalized conversational systems to provide financial or medical advice and guidance directly to customers. In the ideal scenario, generative AI could provide human experts financial insights on areas such as cash flow and money movement.
Percy Liang, director, Stanford HAI Center for Research on Foundation Models
In the world of artificial intelligence, foundation models will become increasingly capable; they will be able to generate text, images, videos, code, and even proteins with uncanny fidelity. A whole host of new products and user experiences will emerge around these models, as will new risks related to disinformation, copyright, jobs, and more. As foundation models are moving at breakneck speed, it is paramount that we improve their transparency, revealing what these models can do and what’s behind them, as well as develop community norms for their development and deployment.
Beena Ammanath, executive director, Global AI Institute, Deloitte
“Trust” will be the most important word in the year ahead. Every company is now a technology company in some capacity, and the commercialization of emerging technologies like AI, quantum computing, and virtual reality is happening faster than developers can anticipate unintended and potentially harmful consequences of misuse. Until standards and policies are in place governing all categories of emerging technology, it’s critical that organizations take it upon themselves to ensure the technology they create, or use is ethical and trustworthy.
Ken Washington, VP & GM, Consumer Robotics, Amazon
In 2023, robots will evolve to play a more important and useful role in our homes and businesses. They will develop the ability to have more sophisticated interactions with humans thanks to enormous advancements in AI and machine learning, such as breakthrough multimodal abilities that enable robots to learn new things similarly to how we as humans learn. They will perform useful tasks, entertain, and provide companionship to their owners.
Ash Jhaveri, VP of Reality Labs Partnerships, Meta
In the coming year, we’ll see more companies partner to deliver solutions in VR that will make teams run better than any other piece of technology that they have available today. I guarantee that every enterprise has at least one if not five or 10 things that could actually be much better if they were in 3D. Traditionally competitive brands will increasingly work together to meet the growing need for immersive, interoperable services.
Hari Vasudev, SVP, Retail Tech Platforms and country head, Walmart Global Tech
AR/VR will be a gamechanger in bringing personalized experiences, such as virtual try-ons for apparel, eyewear, or even scanning shelves to find items that match one’s lifestyle and diet. Over a period of time, voice technology will emerge as a natural part of one’s shopping experience and an important tool for retailers to reduce customer friction.
Nitzan Mekel-Bobrov, chief AI officer, eBay
Great progress has been made in low cost generalized 3D visualization of physical items. This will accelerate adoption in 2023 with broader and deeper rollout of 3D scans showing up in retail. As retailers adopt 3D more broadly we’ll see an increase in their experiential applications, like 3D NFTs and AR visualization.
Jeremy King, SVP Engineering, Pinterest
[B]rands need to invest further in building out their AR technology capabilities to ensure they are set up to be inclusive of all audiences. It’s no longer enough to just offer one AR powered filter per item; instead brands will need to ensure that their filters are tailored for a diverse group of consumers from the outset. Consumers are not going to scroll through a list of filters to find the one that best matches their individuality.
Emmanuelle Rivet, TMT & Global Technology Leader, PwC
The metaverse is a top line agenda item for CIOs and CTOs; 66% of executives report being actively engaged in how the metaverse will deliver sustainable business outcomes. Virtually every member of the C-suite will enter the spotlight to create a sustainable metaverse adoption plan in 2023, including assessing and mitigating potential risks (cyber and privacy among others). We’ll also see more businesses investing in a Chief Metaverse Officer next year, if it is not already in the remit of a Chief Innovation Officer.
CRYPTO AND WEB3
Lindsey Li, investor, Bessemer Venture Partners
Ethereum will maintain dominance of developer mindshare as Ethereum Virtual Machines (EVMs) continue to drive network effects amongst builders. We will also continue to see fallout from ecosystems with FTX involvement but this will not deter more alt Layer 1s from cropping up, cycling in and out of favor. We predict these trend cycles will get shorter as new L1s will not have access to the capital of bull markets past, thereby minimizing the size of potential ecosystem funds and marketing budgets previously used to attract tourists to the next shiny thing.
Kendrick Nguyen, cofounder and CEO, Republic
Tokenization will transform the relationship between companies and their communities. It will become the norm for companies of all shapes and sizes—not just “Web3 companies”—to offer their communities of customers, fans, and supporters upside in their growth via a token issuance. Tokenization unlocks retail participation in private markets via liquidity, fractionalization, quick settlement, and transparency, which benefits both sides of the transaction.
Sajid Sadi, chief executive, Samsung Neon (AI)
I feel like we had a lot of hype and snake oil in crypto until 2022. With the “crypto winter” that’s happening right now, there is a lot of effort to take a real hard look at the underlying fundamentals, and how those fundamentals are governed, supported, and ensured for the layperson user. Now that we’ve given the whole mess a good shake, I expect the bad actors and shamans to desert the ship, and for a new era of responsible and business-mined crypto to take its place and start delivering some meaningful non-get-rich-quick results.
Kathy Kay, EVP and CIO, Principal Financial Group
Leveraging AI and machine learning will help legacy institutions better mitigate risk next year, enabling them to detect and react to cyber threats faster and in real time, predict future threats and incidents, and identify fraud/minimize associated losses. While none of us have a crystal ball to tell us what exactly will happen in 2023, new technology is helping us better plan for whatever uncertainties we may face.
Tim Guleri, managing director, Sierra Ventures
Cyber criminals are feasting on the reactive way in which our most important applications are protected when they run on cloud infrastructure. As application workloads continue to move into the cloud and also from cloud to the edge, real-time cloud-native Application Protection software will become a requirement to thwart the rise in sophisticated and costly attacks by cyber criminals.
Leyla Bilge, technical director, Norton Labs
In 2023, we expect to see cyber criminals use advanced forms of AI technology, such as programs like DALL-E, Midjourney, and Stable Diffusion, or AI chatbots like ChatGPT to boost the effectiveness of their scams. These programs are accessible and easy to use, so cybercriminals can quickly create realistic images that add more depth and human touch to their scam. However, existing AI solutions are not perfect or foolproof, and it’s possible to be able to detect when they are used in attacks and scams.
Dr. Robert (Bobby) Blumofe, CTO and EVP, Akamai Technologies
Just imagine: If a system like ChatGPT has access to any writings (emails, social media postings, articles, whatever) by your boss, an executive in your company, a colleague, or even a friend, then it can write a phishing lure that sounds convincingly like it’s coming from that person. Attackers will quickly gain the ability to write automated email or SMS messages by the millions, each one customized for an individual recipient, and each one with convincing human-like qualities.
Fran Rosch, CEO, ForgeRock
With the threat of an economic downturn, many companies are conducting hiring freezes and, unfortunately, massive layoffs, causing insider threats to rise to crisis levels. To fill in workforce gaps, many companies will turn to consultants. However, these consultants and contractors can bring unintended risk of breaches to an organization’s doorstep. They often get access to sensitive information and are allowed on company networks, but their security practices and training may differ from full-time employees.
Sharon Mandell, chief information officer, Juniper Networks
As organizations transition toward hybrid cloud models, companies still need to spend on tools to keep their existing infrastructure running the way it is—and avoid security pitfalls mid-migration. At the same time, there is a ton of pressure to satisfy government edicts for security as well as keep up resilience in the face of more ransomware. In 2023, CIOs will be forced to make this journey as cost-effective as possible by ramping up efforts to educate the biggest security vulnerability they have: their employees.
STARTUPS AND INVESTING
Mark Surman, executive director, Mozilla
[T]he last economic downturn produced a whole new crop of successful tech companies, like Uber and AirBNB. We should all be asking: what kind of companies are likely to thrive in this downturn? We’re seeing a lot of founders taking a fresh spin on empowering users (think Firefox or Signal, but for the AI era). These companies have a real chance to grow over the next couple of years, which could in turn define the next decade of tech.
David Magerman, managing partner, Differential Ventures
Fundraising as a business model is dead. Valuations in the tech industry will ultimately settle above pre-pandemic levels, but down from 2021. The top companies will be surprisingly closer to the record highs. There is still a significant amount of undeployed cash in venture funds at all stages. Investors and managers are still smarting from recent pain, and appropriately chastened by overly exuberant valuations, but they will have to deploy their capital eventually. Once markets and macroeconomic forces stabilize, we should see the strong companies returning to 2021 valuations.
Santi Subotovsky, general partner, Emergence Capital
As VC funding isn’t as widely available, [SaaS] startups will more often be founded by highly driven entrepreneurs focusing on issues they are truly passionate about. More experienced tech talent, freed up because of reorgs and layoffs, or because employees jump ship as stock option values decline, will join or found those startups. Many of the new companies founded will focus on creating solutions for the hybrid workforce, which will require an entirely new tech stack.
Dustin Robinson, cofounder and managing principal, Iter Investments (a psychedelics venture capital firm)
We are currently in a mental health crisis, and the current pharmaceuticals aren’t doing the trick. Meanwhile, there’s been an explosion of companies developing virtual reality programs to serve mental health. These fully immersive experiences have the potential to create a transcendent experience and allow people to overcome various mental health indications.
Ryan Denehy, CEO, Electric
Most businesses will realize that they bought way too many SaaS applications! They can probably do everything they are doing now with 1/3 to 1/2 as many standalone apps.
Nicole Herskowitz, VP of Microsoft Teams, Microsoft
Over the last two years, innovation in workplace technology has taken-off at light speed, with no signs of slowing down. Now more than ever we are seeing new patterns of work emerging that are asynchronous, interactive, and intelligent. My prediction for 2023 is that we will see more workplace tools span the full spectrum of work styles and take advantage of the convergence of productivity, collaboration, data, AI, business process, and workflow automation.
Noah Weiss, chief product officer, Slack
In 2023, organizations will find new ways to continue fostering the best parts of the old office, like candid conversations over coffee, while taking advantage of asynchronous tools and new digitally native forms of coworking. This will be the year we work together effectively, no matter where we are or when we’re working, while building teams that feel connected, inclusive, and agile.
Howie Liu, cofounder and CEO, Airtable
As every organization needs to move faster to meet customer demands, knowledge work is getting more fractured. Companies need a way to unify their teams and connect their data, enabling people to work autonomously, yet in coordinated fashion. We see a problem within enterprises where it’s not enough to just have individual apps. Individual apps need to be connected and allow the entire enterprise to share a source of truth.
Cynthia Stoddard, SVP and CIO, Adobe
[A] priority area for CIOs is creating digital-first employee experiences for the hybrid workplace. My team works diligently to develop and deploy the right environments, tools, and processes that enable employees to be productive and do their best work—from anywhere. As digital becomes the default, experimentation and investment are needed to explore cutting edge-technology and test collaborative workplace tools with a holistic and human-centered experience in mind.
Meg Bear, president and chief product officer, SAP SuccessFactors
Unrelenting economic pressure has brought about global uncertainty, with almost every industry seeing the effects. As we look to 2023, we must rely on technologies that help organizations emphasize employee engagement and wellness, and help prepare the workforce for the challenges that lie ahead. Upskilling and redeployment of talent have become a necessity in today’s constantly changing workplace.
Mariona Company, global head of sustainable packaging, HP
Sustainable manufacturing strategies will reach a tipping point in 2023. Winning in today’s market, where 77% of consumers say they would stop buying products from a company that had been found guilty of greenwashing, requires more action and less talk than ever before. Companies will need to rethink the way they make, deliver, and use products, as well as their packaging.
Kit Colbert, chief technology officer, VMware
2023 will bring refocused efforts on near and long-term energy efficiency across the information and communication technology (ICT) sector. While the sector has made great strides over the past decade, it still accounts for approximately 7% of the world’s annual energy consumption. Expect to see ICT [take] advantage of innovations around cloud and networking technology optimizations, as well as leveraging cross cloud and application management solutions which factor energy efficiency as a first-class driver.
Neal Hansch, CEO and managing partner, Silicon Foundry
In conjunction with the ongoing and ever-increasing adoption of electric powered vehicles, it’s important to emphasize that the charging infrastructure required to support these vehicles must continue to roll out at a rapid pace in parallel . . . designed to accommodate homes, corporate campuses, gas stations, highway stops, and more. Solutions to meet this demand continue to flow from both the energy majors, as well as pure play startups alike.
Zipporah “Zip” Allen, CMO, Strava
An active community inspires cities to invest in infrastructure and our trends in exercise, commutes, and other activity patterns ultimately impact city planning. We’re predicting a continued surge in e-bike usage similar to this year’s 26% increase compared to last year. The trend lines indicate that conscious and intentional movement is here to stay. With more people opting into human powered movement, it will lead to better outcomes for individuals and communities collectively.
Michael Sachse, CEO, Dandelion Energy
We will spend a lot of time talking about heat pumps in 2023. Heat pumps are the only way to heat homes without fossil fuels. Europe is being forced to transition, and many U.S. states are moving in this direction as well. There will be a lot of new products and new business models in the space next year. And customers will be talking about them more than ever before.
Sam Yam, cofounder, president, and CTO, Patreon
Creators are seeing how quickly trends are emerging and fading, and these rapid cycles will only continue to condense in 2023 as our collective attention span continues to shrink (with short-form TikToks, IG Reels, and YouTube Shorts!). During [the pandemic], we saw genres like crypto surge to over 100% earnings growth over two months, only to see that growth disappear within the next few months. Creators are so innovative, though, that they’re usually the first to surface these trends and shape the culture around them.
Marija Radulovic-Nastic, CTO, creative and development, Electronic Arts
[The] combination of AI and human creativity can give us quality and quantity far better/bigger than humans alone can do. For me, 2023 is going to be all about generative AI empowering the creatives to create faster and we will continue to see even more adoption of this technology, which will significantly impact the future of how content is created.
HEALTH AND WEARABLES
Oliver Kharraz, MD, CEO and cofounder, Zocdoc
The use of telehealth will continue to fall in 2023, with the exception of mental health appointments, cementing virtual care as a niche method of care delivery. While telehealth surged in the early months of the pandemic, when many Americans relied on virtual visits to safely get the care they needed, an overwhelming majority of patients are choosing to see their doctors in-person again. Outside of mental health, people see telehealth as a supplement to, not a replacement for, in-person care.
Sean Duffy, CEO and cofounder, Omada Health
As both patients and providers face broader financial constraints in 2023, and the cost of doctor visits, medications, and treatments skyrocket, it’s imperative that technology helps people simplify their long-term health choices and save money. Virtual care will become the bridge that allows people to not have to choose between paying for gas and paying for a doctor’s visit or medication.
Jake Sattlemair, CEO, Wellframe
Big systemic shifts don’t play well in the healthcare space. For health plans, dealing with massive disruption rocks the boat internally and the ramifications are usually on the members that are left confused. Healthcare consists of large organizations, regulation, and bureaucracy, and real change often comes iteratively, and takes time to hit critical mass. Digital health tools can be a critical enabler allowing plans to reimagine what they offer to members, but new technology is less about the technology itself and more about mindset shifts.
Liana Douillet Guzman, CEO, FOLX Health
First, if the last few weeks are any indication, we’ll see ChatGPT continue to build incredible momentum. I’m excited by the potential this technology has for expanding access to equitable care, but we need to learn from the mistakes made with social media to ensure we are taking an ethical and thoughtful approach to creating virtual dialogue.
Rhonda Vetere, former CIO/CTO, Estée Lauder Companies
Focus on wellness and mental health are at an all time high, and going into 2023 we will continue to see these at the forefront with technology being a key factor for tracking overall personal health. I believe there will be an even greater focus on tech apps and gadgets that aggregate wellness data from all applications.
Gabriel Mecklenberg, cofounder, Hinge Health
[As] we look ahead to 2023, equitable healthcare access means that AI-powered care experiences must work on low-end phones, for people of all shapes and colors, and in everyday environments. We must ensure AI is used to bridge the care gap, not widen it.
Kyle Wiens, CEO, iFixit
Right to Repair. We’ve hit a critical mass of interest in and demand for Right to Repair laws. We’re going to see an upending in the way that companies sell consumer electronics. It’s preposterous that you still can’t buy new batteries for the AirPods. Consumers should have the information, parts, and tools to fix their products. Over twenty states are poised and ready to file bills in 2023 aimed at restoring repair rights for everything from tractors to refrigerators.
Tech Antitrust. I think we’re going to see governments start to gradually unroll monopolies like the App Store’s razor-wire walled garden that blocks all kinds of useful apps, from web browsers to repair software. Why can’t I have a chat app that talks to iMessage and Whatsapp? Why won’t Apple approve an app that tells you how many battery cycles your iPhone has used up? People are fed up, and I expect to see real policies pushed out to roll back this monopolistic abuse of power.
Marisa Tricarico, North America lead for Responsible AI, Accenture
We’ll be talking about more Responsible AI and AI regulation in 2023. Despite perceptions that it might stifle innovation, AI regulation provides organizations with clarity about the boundaries, so they can push innovation to the limit without destroying hard-earned trust built with their customers, shareholders and society at large. And companies are already preparing: Accenture’s latest research surveying 850 global executives found almost half of businesses (45%) plan to commit at least a fifth of their AI budgets to meeting regulatory requirements by 2024.