The Next Big Tech Wave
Finally - we may have some visibility into how the next big wave of technology will shape up.
In the last decade, 2000-2010 - the smartphone and mobile internet wave - was initiated. 2011-2020 has mostly been just about riding that to maturity.
The last decade also saw all prescient techies and VCs starting to clamour to find the next big tech wave - speculating, tinkering and betting on what will lead to the next explosion in value (and valuations).
Everything so far - has looked bleak. There were mainly 3 options, from a layman’s perspective (excuse if I miss some niche development that only experts in the field would know of) -
/1 AI / AGI -
- AI always seemed overhyped. Chat Bots & AI Assistants took over in the middle of the last decade, and died down once the initial novelty wore off.
- Bots started beating a lot of human players in structured games, and then unstructured, complicated games as well.
- Beyond that - nada (for the layman consumer - a lot of things became more way more optimized in the background though).
/2 VR / Metaverse -
- This was to be the next big computing platform. The company with the biggest consumer user base in the world changed its name to ride this too.
- Everyone I know bought or played with an Oculus VR, and used it less than 10 times and it’s now gathering dust somewhere in their house. Note - if it didn’t pick up during the lockdowns, on its own merit, hard to make a case for it given the current experience.
- Great novelty factor, but too inconvenient or expensive to become a daily use computing platform for the masses.
/3 Crypto / Web3 -
- Highly speculative - meant to disrupt the current financial system and governments.
- Ended up with having some people make a lot of money, a lot of people losing some money, and rediscovering and speedrunning every scam and bubble since the dawn of humankind.
You could actually argue that while speculators were attracted to Web3 to get rich quick, a lot of builders were also attracted to it because Web2 seemed so dystopian. BigTech has won everything and most startup funding dollars are going to BigTech too (cloud, performance marketing and inflated talent costs). Web3 still felt full of hope, the chance to build everything anew and from scratch.
None of them in isolation turned out to become the next big technology wave that everyone’s been waiting for.
This fact - combined with the end of the zero interest rate regime across the world - has led to doom and gloom and even FAANG techies (coddled over a decade, riding the beta of the last tech wave by being in the right place and the right time) are now seeing a dystopian future full of layoffs and the reality of free markets crashing down on them.
However - it feels like we’re on the cusp of something big.
/1 AI / AGI -
- Generative AI is finally making its mark on multiple industries (could still be mostly hype, but doesn’t feel like it).
- Almost all known games (both in the virtual and real world) - will soon be beaten by it, led by DeepMind et al.
- Self Driving Cars and Robots may genuinely become viable in 2021-30, the coming decade.
- The most ignored child is turning out to be the most capable.
/2 VR / Metaverse -
- Headsets and user experience seem to be getting better. With FB’s new headset, and rumours of Apple launching something good by 2024 - if this doesn’t make it a mass computing platform - nothing else will.
- There will be a gold rush for developers once this happens, similar to what we saw at the dawn of the App Store across the world and the dawn of super cheap mobile internet due to Jio in India which birthed most of the unicorns in India indirectly by significantly expanding access and the TAM.
/3 Crypto / Web3 -
- The most controversial, overhyped and now the most criticised leg. Maybe it was just truly ahead of its time.
- Decentralization - hard to make a case for it given the strong control of current governments and centralized computing platforms.
- Scarcity - now this - will become more and more valuable - given the wave of digital abundance pushed forward by the Generative AI wave. Until now, it was speculative, now it may become a real need.
- Proof of Ownership and Proof of Human Creation will become more valuable as we get flooded by midwit level digital content and entities post the Generative AI wave takes hold.
What if the next big wave is not any of these 3, but the confluence of all of these 3.
- Metaverse/VR increasing the value of ‘Digital’ as opposed to ‘Real’ in everyone’s life.
- Generative AI improving the ‘Digital’ experience thoroughly with Abundance and making the need for ‘Real’ world interactions minimal by automating all logistics (production, deliveries, rides) and need for human connection (via virtual companions/sex bots)
- Crypto finally providing a way to control this ‘Digital’ ‘Abundance’ and ascribe value to the things that are truly ‘Original’ and ‘Real’.
They say it’s more opportunistic and higher ROI to be in the top 10% of 2-3 fields and intersect them as opposed to being in the top 1% of any new field.
They also say that one should be fearful when everyone is greedy, and greedy when everyone is fearful.
As a combo - we’re leaning more towards fear in Crypto, feeling neutral for the Metaverse, and just starting to get greedy in AI.
For anyone just starting out in Tech or trying to do something new in Tech, maybe now truly is the best time to build, before the speculators ruin everything again. For most people - not just in one of these (as all of them are extremely deep fields with real genius needing a decade to get to), but at the intersection of all of these.
The beginning of a long cold winter for speculators, and the beginning of a new wave opening up multiple opportunities for consumer facing disruption for builders.
PS: Maybe this post is just triggered by the early novelty of the breakthrough with ChatGPT and multiple other Generative AI projects, and will age badly. Only time will tell.