2023 was the year of generative AI. What can we expect in 2024?

Photo: Midjourney image by T.J. Thomson

In 2023, artificial intelligence (AI) truly entered our daily lives.

The latest data shows four in five teenagers in the United Kingdom are using generative AI tools. About two-thirds of Australian employees report using generative AI for work.

At first, many people used these tools because they were curious about generative AI or wanted to be entertained.

Now, people ask generative AI for help with studies, for advice, or use it to find or synthesise information. Other uses include getting help coding and making images, videos or audio.

AI uses and functions have also shifted over the past 12 months as technological development, regulation and social factors have shaped what’s possible. Here’s where we’re at, and what might come in 2024
Generative AI made waves early in the year when it was used to enter and even win photography competitions, and tested for its ability to pass school exams.

Some musicians used AI voice cloning to create synthetic music that sounds like popular artists, such as Eminem.

Google launched its chatbot, Bard.

GPT-4, the latest iteration of the AI that powers ChatGPT, launched in March. This release brought new features, such as analysing documents or longer pieces of text.

Also in March, corporate giants like Coca-Cola began generating ads partly through AI, while Levi’s said it would use AI for creating virtual models.

The now-infamous image of the Pope wearing a white Balenciaga puffer jacket went viral. A cohort of tech evangelists also called for an AI development pause.

Amazon began integrating generative AI tools into its products and services in April. Meanwhile, Japan ruled there would be no copyright restrictions for training generative AI in the country.

In July, worshippers experienced some of the first religious services led by AI.

Given the whirlwind of AI developments in the past 12 months, we’re likely to see more incremental changes in the next year and beyond.

In particular, we expect to see changes in these four areas.

ChatGTP was initially just a chatbot that could generate text. Now, it can generate text, images and audio. Google’s Bard can now interface among Gmail, Docs and Drive and complete tasks across these services.

By bundling generative AI into existing services and combining functions, companies will try to maintain their market share and make AI services more intuitive, accessible and useful.

At the same time, bundled services make users more vulnerable when inevitable data breaches happen.

Various news platforms have been slammed in 2023 for producing AI-generated content without transparently communicating this.

AI-generated images of world leaders and other newsworthy events abound on social media, with high potential to mislead and deceive.

Media industry standards that transparently and consistently denote when AI has been used to create or augment content will need to be developed to improve public trust.

In these early days, many have been content playfully exploring AI’s possibilities. However, as these AI tools begin to unlock rapid advancements across all sectors of our society, more fine-grained control over who governs these foundational technologies will become increasingly important.

In 2024, we will likely see future-focused leaders incentivising the development of their sovereign capabilities through increased research and development funding, training programmes and other investments.

For the rest of us, whether you’re using generative AI for fun, work, or school, understanding the strengths and limitations of the technology is essential for using it in responsible, respectful and productive ways.

Similarly, understanding how others – from governments to doctors – are increasingly using AI in ways that affect you, is equally important.

  • TJ Thomson is a senior lecturer in visual communication and digital media at RMIT University, while Daniel Angus is a digital communication professor at Queensland University of Technology.

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