Trends of 2023: The year in tech

We look back on a year dominated by artificial intelligence, which epitomised the split between concern and optimism in other corners of the tech landscape

X, AI, Musk. No, we’re not referring to the entrepreneur’s offspring but the tech industry’s biggest upheavals this year. In the social media landscape, Twitter’s chaotic rebrand as X created a newly agnostic user base that was up for grabs – a space that Meta sought to occupy with Threads, though the buzz came as quickly as it went.

Meanwhile the discussion around generative AI was so prolific this year that it almost seemed to generate itself. It’s hard to recall a recent technology that’s been quite as immediately and persistently divisive in the creative industries. Not even much-hyped developments like NFTs and the metaverse (which is still quietly evolving, by the way, even if frenzy has died down) have stirred so many strong responses. Excitement about the technology on the one hand has been countered by existential worry on the other.

Over the course of the year, many creatives argued that generative AI could strip away the parts of the job they consider mundane and open up new avenues for inspiration that they could incorporate into their practices. “It’s the stuff that we avoid. It’s stuff that doesn’t feel like creativity – the thing we have to do before we get to sit in a room and fill our heads,” said OK Tomorrow CEO Nilesh Ashra at a fringe event at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity this year. This sentiment was echoed by Duncan Clark at Canva following a survey that deemed AI an “enabler of productivity and creativity”. The sheer volume of projects this year that drew on AI platforms such as ChatGPT, Midjourney, and Dall-E showed at the very least an immense curiosity among many people working in the creative industries – curiosity, or a fear of being left behind.