It’s been quite the year for artificial intelligence (AI). Generative AI, which creates content in response to prompts, exploded into the mainstream. 2023 has been characterised by extraordinary leaps in what’s possible. This year has also seen AI front and centre in public consciousness, discussion and debate. Collins Dictionary even crowned AI the word of the year.
Despite warnings AI would bring about the end of days, we’re still standing. But what will 2024 bring? If you ask the prediction powerhouse that is AI what next year’s headlines will look like, you get something a little like this:
"AI breakthroughs accelerate healthcare innovations, autonomous vehicles reach new milestones, and ethical debates intensify over AI's role in society, shaping the future of technology." – generated using ChatGPT 3.5.
As part of Australia’s first-ever National AI Month, we asked leaders in AI from the National AI Centre (NAIC), NAIC Think Tank members, and friends in the industry, for their 2024 AI predictions. Here’s what’s on their horizons.
The new AI normal
Experts predict 2024 will see AI be both extraordinary and ordinary as it’s further integrated into our everyday lives.
Judy Slatyer is a thought leader in the responsible deployment of AI and leader of NAIC’s Responsible AI at Scale Think Tank. She paints a picture of AI’s growing normalisation in homes, businesses, and global markets.
"In 2024, hundreds of millions of people will be using the increasingly advanced features of AI in their everyday work and life. Already some 54 per cent of global consumers are using AI every day and we’ll see this increase significantly next year," Judy said.
"By end of 2024 many of us will have an AI-enabled assistant. This will be either personalised to our individual needs or leveraging the increasingly ‘intelligent’ embedded assistants in the products and services we use every day."
Judy also foreshadows a growth in investor interest in AI. During the second quarter earnings season in the United States (July to August 2023), AI-related terms were mentioned almost five times more than during the last quarter of 2022.
"But AI systems will increasingly have to prove their value beyond just being technologically innovative to avoid AI becoming a fad," she said.
AI is everywhere, all at once
Aruna Pattam is the Head of AI Analytics and Data Science - Insights and Data APAC at Capgemini. She predicts AI will become ubiquitous as our understanding grows and system costs decrease.
"A notable driver I see will be all the excitement around generative AI which, along with the decreasing costs of AI technologies, will fuel its adoption across various sectors,” Aruna said.
“The vast availability of data and a deeper comprehension of AI's benefits will also play pivotal roles.”
Louis Martin is the General Manager of Privacy and Customer Trust at Wesfarmers. He paints a picture of the breadth of potential AI transformations within businesses to come.
"We’ll see large-scale adoption in businesses across a broad range of domains, from coding, to customer support, general productivity and marketing. Some businesses will be in test-and-learn phases as early adopters, while some will adopt across the whole stack at an enterprise level,” he said.
"There’s also a risk that Shadow AI will proliferate as those businesses that don’t allow their teams to test and learn will see it adopted anyway, outside official channels."
Cooling down the hype
This year we've seen extreme speculation about the potential of AI to revolutionise life as we know it or bring about our demise. In 2024 we are likely to bring AI back down to earth.
Kendra Vant is an expert in practical and ethical AI commercialisation and a member of NAIC’s AI Industry Forum and Responsible AI at Scale Think Tank. She predicts next year will bring a reality check for AI as businesses move from experimentation to implementation.
"2024 will see us stepping up to the practicalities of this technological advance which is an important and multifaceted new tool but not a magic wand," Kendra said.
"The fundamentals of value delivery with AI remain unchanged. Proof of concepts are easy, you need to understand your data to achieve sustainably great results. End-to-end systems are nuanced and there's no free lunch, though some delicious new dishes are on the menu!”
Toby Walsh, a member of NAIC’s AI Industry Forum and Professor of AI at UNSW agrees. He points to the Hype Cycle for Artificial Intelligence timeline proposed by Gartner.
“Gartner has called it – we’re at the peak of inflated expectations with generative AI. Therefore, there is bound to be some deflation in 2024 as it fails to live up to all the hype,” Toby said.
“Nevertheless, generative AI will start to have a real impact on a number of areas like customer service. Businesses will also start to discover there’s far more to AI than just generative AI. Areas like optimisation, data mining and machine learning will get a lot of traction.”
Breakthroughs and bug fixes
Our technical experts in the development of AI systems said we will continue to see improvements in AI’s capabilities next year.
They predict the ironing out of current bugs and a move to models which can process multiple data types, such as images, text and audio.
Liming Zhu is a Research Director for our Data61 team and member of NAIC's Responsible AI at Scale Think Tank.
"Internationally, the next innovation wave will feature agent-based AI systems capable of complex, ongoing interactions with humans,” Liming said.
"In Australia, the accelerated adoption of AI will focus on using pre-trained models and experimenting with innovative applications. Building responsible and trustworthy AI will emerge as a competitive advantage," he added.
Responsible AI and good governance takes centre stage
As AI is further woven into the fabric of our lives, our experts think current calls for transparency and responsible development and deployment will grow teeth.
Keith Strier is Vice President of Worldwide AI Initiatives at NVIDIA and member of NAIC’s Responsible AI at Scale Think Tank. He believes 2024 will be a year of action on governance.
“I predict the rising adoption of large-scale AI models will lead to a shift. We'll go from talking about global AI governance to forming dedicated bodies focused on it. This might include new agencies or institutes within and across nations,” he said.
Jade Haar is Head of Privacy and Data Ethics at the National Australia Bank. She foreshadows a balancing act between big data and reducing the data organisations collect to only what's necessary.
“If ChatGPT has taught us anything, it is that what is commonly referred to as 'public’ information, is not the same as ‘free and open’ information. Buyers of AI solutions must continue to ask about provenance and rights to data or simply accept the unknowns. The latter being less appealing to public or regulated entities," she said.
Kobi Leins is a global expert in AI, international law and governance. She is also a member of Standards Australia’s IT-043 Artificial Intelligence National Committee. Kobi offers a timely reminder that as we look to the future of AI, we can play a critical role in shaping it.
“I think governance is going to take the front stage as litigation increases and companies adopt more technology. The use of automation and AI will increase, but so will scepticism, guardrails and accidents. This is alongside rapid climate change and an increasing awareness that technology cannot fix all things,” she said.
“We need to be mindfully sceptical about the future. And most importantly, a lot more inclusive about who gets to decide what our futures look like.”