I don’t like it here and I think I’d like to go home, please.
But we’ve made it. And though many (but not all) of my predictions for 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019and 2018 have been wrong(ish), there are three reasons why you should keep reading this article. Firstly, because the knowledge gained through planning is crucial to the selection of appropriate actions as future events unfold. Secondly, if you don’t make predictions, you’ll never know what to be surprised by. And finally… because it’s fun!
With this in mind, here are 12 2024 predictions for key events and trends that will take shape in the new year.
1. Ozempic changes the entire economy
If you haven’t heard of Ozempic, A) that’s weird and B) you will in 2024. On paper, Ozempic is a medication primarily used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. In reality… it’s the Hot New Drug everyone is taking to lose an extra 20 pounds, and keep them off. Supposedly (I haven’t tried it, yet) Ozempic makes its users less hungry and less prone to impulse. It is almost a universal demand suppressant at most, or is at least very good at suppressing addictive behaviors.
Ozempic isn’t alone on the market, too. These drugs are proliferating as competitors like Mounjaro, Wegovy, and a few others are catching up. Morgan Stanley has projected that 24 million people, or nearly 7% of the U.S. population, will be taking such medications in 2035.In 2022, the US fast food market was $382B, snack food was $110B, tobacco was $83B. A 5% reduction in these markets would create a $30B size hole in the economy. And that’s only the 1st-level effects. We will also have to contend with medical companies losing business, psychologists having less clients, gyms emptying, social media seeing less use (don’t @ me, opening Instagram is an impulse) and sinking the world’s advertising business…
In 2024, entire economies will start to change. There will be winners like airlines (skinnier passengers use less fuel) and governments (spending less on fighting obesity-related health issues)… but whether Ozempic ends up being a net positive is still up for discussion.
2. Los Angeles becomes the next Detroit (aka Death by TikTok)
Why do I say that? Firstly, because competition from social media is eating historical players alive. Look at Disney’s stock. Warner’s stock. Paramount’s stock. All near a decade-low. The 10 most viewed movies last year? Reboots. Meanwhile, “TikTok now commands 95 minutes of user attention per day, equivalent to four and a half episodes of The Office. More than 200 billion Facebook and Instagram Reels are played every day — up 50% in less than one year. YouTube, a subsidiary app owned by Google, now rakes in as much revenue as Netflix” (source : Scott Galloway). And you know what? TikTok creators can’t go on strike.
Secondly, it’s no coincidence that the year of the writers’ strike is also the year of AI. The emergence of AI in content creation presents a challenge to traditional Hollywood writers and producers, and will lead to job losses and reduced industry relevance. It will be so much easier to create “filler” shows without real actors and writers (more on that later). And the A-listers can continue to be paid well to work on AAA content. The writing is already on the wall, if blurry; the day Microsoft announced it was incorporating AI into its Office suite, it added the value of Disney to its capitalization.
All this means that there is less money for an industry that was already growing less relevant as international markets developed their own tastes (Squid Games, Casa De Papel…). Writers are celebrating a 5% raise when, adjusted for inflation, the average writer-producer salary has declined 23% in the past decade. Also, inflation was 8% last year…
In 2024, the top 10% will thrive. But everyone else in the industry will suffer, and Hollywood will start (continue?) a long descent into irrelevance.
That’s because as AI digests and reproduces content, it is ruining every single platform with a mountain of nonsense. It is poisoning Spotify, Youtube, Google, Facebook. Over time, it will get harder to train new AIs… as the quality of the data used will be lesser / heavily influenced by millions of AI-generated pieces of content.
One might argue that the best way out is to identify AI data and leave it out of training sets, but that’s famously difficult. No, the only way out is to produce, and sell, 100% certified non-contaminated data-sets. This industry-wide need will lead to the creation of a new type of company, from which social media platforms will buy training data-sets to train their algorithm. And trust me, they will be expensive. They will be all the more expensive because I believe they will have the added benefit of being commercially viable, to avoid the avalanche of copyright lawsuits that are about to befall our tech overlords. The Zucks, Musks and Spiegels of this world will be forced to invest to bring back trust to their platform, without which they are doomed.
In 2024, it will be a good time to start a “Clean Data” company.
4. AI anchors invade waiting rooms
There are a lot of TVs not in homes today — 219m TVs total in the U.S., even after a decade of cord-cutting — and those TVs show content, which costs money to produce and license. They show CNN in airports, 80s sitcoms re-reruns in waiting rooms, cheap cooking shows in cheap hotels… the list goes on.
In short, there exists a subspace dimension of streaming services watched by, from what I can tell, no one, where ads play in between TV shows and movies that don’t really exist in any culturally meaningful way. Like the streaming video equivalent of two cameras pointing at each other. And that is where AI-generated content will launch initially.
We’re not yet ready (in 2024 at least) for Generative Artificial Intelligence to create entire personalized movies — which, by the way, already exists and is called TikTok. We are, however, ready for the dystopian nightmare that is AI news.
An AI start-up, aptly named “Channel 1”, is promising a new news network powered entirely by AI-generated hosts. You can watch the demo here. While dystopian, it will probably work and become the norm; it’s cheap to produce, doesn’t require much input, and boomers in waiting room won’t know the difference.
As highlighted earlier, Hollywood (and content as a whole), is a dying breed, except for AAA content. My personal theory is that, over time, this type of visual netherworld will eventually swallow every streaming service that isn’t Netflix, Amazon Prime and maybe Apple TV and Disney+.
In 2024, the news will be AI-generated, and the person telling it to you will be fake. What a time to be alive.
What that will do to fake news, only time will tell, but I’d wager it won’t be good.
5. Lawyers have a busy 2024 (thanks to AI)
In 2024, AI will continue to become ever-more pervasive throughout companies. This will lead to many fun high jinks… and to some over-worked lawyers. Think about the many issues AI will bring about for those poor ex-gifted kids:
People suing companies for copyright infringements (if clean data hasn’t been used)… and then, if that doesn’t stick, for bias and discrimination
Employees suing companies en masse for wrongful dismissal because an AI can now do their job
Governments implementing new rules that management won’t understand (like the recent AI Act)
AI bots malfunctioning and leading to mistakes… and lawsuits
AI bots “accidentally” leaking out training data containing sensitive information
AI bots mistakenly telling children how to build a bomb (or worse)
The list goes on. It’s not a bad career to go into, if you’re 18 and trying to figure out a path for yourself… but probably a very tiring time right now.
I hope corporate lawyers have a restful end of 2023, because their 2024 is going to be difficult.
6. We see a global shift towards a 4-Day Work Weeks
Speaking of AI… there is plenty of research to show that we will likely be much more productive in the coming years thanks to technology. I’m not sure if this means we will get a Universal Basic Income anytime soon… but it at least means we rethink the time we allocate to work in the near future.
I believe we will start to switch to 4-day work-weeks in 2024. Mostly because it’s already happening. The other reason is obvious, if a little heartless. We will switch to working 4 days a week because many people will be fired — 20% of workers will have over 50% of their work tasks impacted by AI — and only the Really Important people will be left to run companies. There will be additional incentive to keep those precious people… and enough additional margin from all the layoffs and automation to give them an extra day off a week. Companies that don’t have the capabilities to use AI well… will just get people to work 5 days a week (if not 6).
In 2024, people start to get excited about a 4-day work-week… and many are quickly disappointed as it only materializes for a chosen few.
7. Our two-speed society becomes more obvious
Speaking of a chosen few…
As mentioned throughout this article, low-effort knowledge jobs will be replaced by AI in the very near future. Customer care centers, for example, will no longer have a reason to be. AI is just good-enough to cater to the needs of the middle class, they will say. Costs have risen too high to pay a living wage, they will say. Customers prefer AI, they will say.
AI, however, will not be good enough for them. Automation will not apply to service jobs at luxury brands. In fact, top companies (Apple, Mercedes, Louis Vuitton…) will use the benefits human to human communication to highlight the benefits of paying a premium. This has already started and is getting more pronounced every year. You can only talk to your airline if you have a first-class ticket, avoid being tracked if you have an iPhone, get size advice at Gucci…
And so, we are creating a two-speed society. The rich can afford to talk to humans, have their data protected, and have their kids learn to read on human-written books. To be alive and middle-class in a post-capitalist society, meanwhile, is to have your data harvested in exchange for the privilege of merely existing.
Soon, talking to a human for customer support will be an exclusively upper middle-class experience.
As mentioned previously, I think we’ve all noticed that the quality of life for everyone but the 1 percenters has drastically decreased since COVID. Of course, there’s been inflation (8% in the US is 2022!), and a general reduction of purchasing power. We all know that. But there’s also been shrinkflation (consumer goods are reduced in quantity or quality while prices remain the same) and what has been called the enshittification of the internet.
Even tertiary companies used the cover of COVID to worsen their customer service. I used to get a towel at the gym, now I don’t. There’s no one at the register in my grocery store. When they’re there, they’ve been given dumb rules that make them unable to appropriately help people. Some hotels no longer clean rooms daily.
It’s not you. The world is just getting slowly more miserable for the majority. But customers are obviously noticing that industry cuts are affecting them, just as inflation is making their purchasing power worse. They will make their feelings known.
Such market conditions will lead to renewed interest in alternative housing options like shipping containers, mobile homes, tiny homes, houseboats, tree houses, RVs and school buses. We now have enough technology to make these spaces comfortable to live in… and it’s not like some of us have any better options.
In 2024, alternative housing will become trendy. Not only because it’s more affordable to live off the grid, but also because it’s more sustainable; these spaces tend to be more energy efficient than a suburban home.
It’s not a long-term solution but their acceptance would be a start.
10. We start talking to animals using AI
This is one is just a personal theory. I believe that, as we gather more data on animal behavior, and work to label it via a trial-and-error process, we will soon be able to communicate with animals.
AI can be used to analyze animal noises, identify patterns, and potentially translate them into human-understandable formats. For example, algorithms could analyze bird songs or dolphin calls, identify specific calls or songs, and associate them with specific behaviors or contexts. These sounds could then be reproduced, and even combined with non-auditory signals such as behaviours and / or smell. I don’t mean we should have long philosophical discussions, but we could establish a basis for a better understanding.
Hopefully, we don’t use it just to say to our dogs what good boys / girls they are (which is true).
This 2024 technology could really help with conservation and wildlife management, at a time when it is sorely needed.
As we struggle with macro-economic and technological trends, we mustn't lose track of geo-political trends. They matter just as much, if not more. One such trends is “slowbalisation”; supply chains are being re-organized due to increasing labor costs (and cost mitigation investments such as robotization), a need for diversification, and evolving geostrategic objectives. Nowhere is this more visible than in the freezing US / China relationship.
That’s where India comes in. The most populous country in the world is currently experiencing rapid economic growth, entering a phase characterized by increased urbanization, industrialization, and rising household incomes, similar to China’s growth trajectory in recent decades. Given its young population, India is likely to remain the world’s fastest-growing economy over the next 10–20 years, barring major policy errors or negative shocks, making it a key player in global economic growth through the 2020s and 2030s
Unlike China, India is the world’s largest democracy, a factor that can influence foreign investment and international relations. Democratic governance can provide a more predictable and stable environment for long-term investments. China, meanwhile, has been plagued by uncertainty of late. Recent years have seen challenges in the Chinese economy, including stock market volatility, debt crises, and other economic pressures.
In 2024, analyst will ask CEOs “How is your business in India doing?”, rather than “How is you China business doing?”
12. Starbucks launches a coworking space
It makes sense, doesn’t it? Starbucks has a widespread / worldwide presence in global hubs, and a fairly stellar reputation as a place to work in. By officially venturing into the coworking space, Starbucks can capitalize on this existing trend, offering more structured, work-friendly environments within their coffee shops… while still selling overpriced coffee.
The post-pandemic work culture has seen a significant shift towards remote and flexible working arrangements. Many wannabe entrepreneurs and companies are now looking for alternatives to traditional office spaces, favoring settings that offer flexibility, convenience, and a less formal atmosphere. Since WeWork is dead, Starbucks can cater to this emerging market by transforming or augmenting parts of its existing stores into coworking areas.
This initiative could also present new revenue streams for Starbucks. In addition to the direct income from coworking memberships or day passes, there are opportunities for increased sales in food and beverages, as coworkers are likely to purchase coffee and snacks during their time there.
Creating coworking spaces feels like a win-win, and Starbucks ought to go there in 2024. Hell, they’re already doing car chargers, why not this, too.
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