10 AI trends to watch for in 2023
Artificial intelligence is, suddenly, all around. You may have tested ChatGPT, the AI-powered chatbot that headlined tech conversations at this year’s World Economic Forum, seen AI-generated portraits on Instagram, or followed the wave of recent enthusiastic media coverage. But this technology hasn’t just appeared from nowhere. Artificial intelligence has powered internet search, voice assistants, and more for years — but has rapidly entered our public awareness and conscious engagement in the past few months.
2023 will be a defining year in shaping the future of AI. Here are ten important AI domains to watch:
1. AI and bots will change your job, no matter your profession
Delivery drivers, cleaners, grocery clerks, and hospitality staff all face the unsettling possibility of being replaced by bots. Even legal and medical professionals are beginning to envision working alongside AI to conduct research, prepare briefs or develop diagnoses. Throughout 2023, debate over employment and industrial protection will shape our national discourse. To ensure genuine preparedness, we need empathetic, human-centered, and community-driven efforts to prepare for labor disruption at scale, ensuring workers have access to new upskilling and opportunities.
2. AI will enter classrooms and exam halls
AI has rapidly progressed from providing simple scripted answers to writing entire essays with logical arguments and inferences. Provocative headlines like “The College Essay Is Dead” illustrate rising concerns about how AI might affect traditional pedagogical methods. Educational institutions need to grapple with AI’s effects on learning and evaluation and design new curricula to prepare students for the AI future.
3. For children, AI will create new opportunities — and challenges
Parents already contend with the behavioral risks of cell phone and social media addictions, cyberbullying, and online harassment. Children will have access to advanced AI tools and chatbots with the capacity to introduce new interpersonal challenges. Together, parents, teachers, and community leaders will need to strike a balance between encouraging healthy, offline connection and responsible use of social AI tools.
4. Digital portrait generators will change our understanding of privacy
Today’s phones and social media accounts give technology companies access to vast stores of information about users, including our images. Applications like Lensa AI’s “Magic Avatars” function, which uses real photos to generate glamorous, aggrandized, or even quirky self-portraits, are the latest advances under this umbrella of scrutiny. What happens when AI — or its developer — knows every facial feature and can pick us out from a crowd? Throughout 2023, we will see increased focus on security and data protection debates.
5. Defining what constitutes ‘art’ will become increasingly difficult
With AI making its art world debut, traditional artists and art critics are simultaneously questioning its validity as a form of creative expression and highlighting the risks to artistic and intellectual ownership. Apps like DALL-E pull from troves of publicly accessible images created by other artists to create new works without compensating the original artists. Some critics have deemed these actions artistic theft. In 2023, we need public debate on the ethical implications — and economic fairness — of AI-generated art.
6. Algorithmic justice will become a critical, cross-sectoral inquiry
Algorithmic justice dilemmas abound in hiring, law enforcement, health care, and beyond. As long as data sets reflect real-world discrimination and bias, the AI tools trained on that data will continue to perpetuate inequity. Both technologists and policymakers need a new toolkit to audit new algorithms and hold their users accountable.
7. Killer robots will have to obey the law
In November 2022, San Francisco’s board of advisors voted affirmatively — and then swiftly overturned — an authorization for local police to deploy autonomous robots capable of executing deadly force. The U.S. Army use of “man-in-the-loop” or “remotely controlled systems” during drone strikes in Afghanistan and Iraq is well-documented. 2023 will prove to be an important year for regulating the use of lethal AI systems and determining the appropriate level of human oversight and machine autonomy.
8. Expect more and bigger technology commitments from civil society
Philanthropy will play an increasingly large role in directing the development of new technologies to focus on human and long-term planetary challenges. Expect to see civil society underwriting new “AI public goods” — supporting data gathering efforts and the creation of new predictive tools for climate adaptation, health delivery and more.
9. The ‘AI divide’ is the new ‘digital divide’
AI has the ability to make many aspects of our lives easier — from enhancing our productivity at work to helping us avoid traffic on our commute. But with a recent World Economic Forum reporting almost 3 billion people across the globe remain offline, the widening gap between those with access to AI and those without presents clear challenges to equitable development and global progress. In 2023, we need to see substantial, rapid action from global leaders — public, private and philanthropic — towards improving digital access and digital and AI literacy.
10. AI will play a new role in government — our public service leaders need to be prepared
Governments have frequently been slow to adopt and adapt to technological advances. AI provides an extraordinary opportunity to utilize real-time data analysis, predict future needs, and deliver high-quality services. To achieve this, government will need more diverse technical talent than ever before, as well as programs that allow technologists to move relatively seamlessly between private sector careers and public service.
The speed of AI innovation is accelerating, and individuals and communities are taking note: AI is here to stay. To ensure AI serves us all, we must become co-designers of our common, AI-driven future in 2023.
Vilas Dhar is president of the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, a philanthropy advancing artificial intelligence (AI) and data solutions to create a thriving, equitable, and sustainable future for all. Yolanda Botti-Lodovico is the policy and advocacy lead for the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation.
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