With the dawn of 2023, it is time to reflect on the past year

Prakash Narayan-


Prakash Narayan

First, here’s wishing all of you and your families a very Happy New Year. We hope that this year brings you joy, good health, and all of your desired outcomes.

By many counts, 2022 was not a great year. The stock markets tumbled to their worst year since 2008, cryptocurrencies were eviscerated (more on that later), inflation stayed stubbornly high, interest-rates increased most aggressively since the 1980s. We saw a decade-long hypergrowth of the tech industry come to an end. Many startups died and tech companies laid off workers.

One of the biggest stories of the year was the acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk. He came in with the intent of “cleaning up the house”. He ended up damaging its reputation. In fact, when he polled people (on Twitter) if he should resign as the CEO of Twitter, people responded with a resounding “Yes”. People who were earlier banned from Twitter for promoting hate speech; spreading false information about COVID; the results of the 2020 election; inciting violence were reinstated. Advertisers and active users are departing from Twitter in droves. It remains to be seen what the future holds for Twitter.

We witnessed a major scandal in the crypto domain when the exchange FTX collapsed. This resulted in over $8 billion in assets evaporating. FTX was launched by Sam Bankman-Fried when he was just 28 years old. It became one of the largest crypto exchanges in just three years with a valuation of $32 billion. In a startling sequence of events that took less than 10 days (starting Nov. 2), FTX filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and Bankman-Fried stepped down as the CEO.

Technology had a large part to play in the Southwest Airlines meltdown that we witnessed in late December that stranded thousands of passengers during one of the busiest travel weeks of the year. Turned out that they were relying on a crew-scheduling technology that was built for a bygone era and was due for a major overhaul. They had to revert to manual scheduling – which contributed to huge disruptions.

It was not all doom and gloom, however, the mid-term elections in November were remarkably normal. This was especially important as people were questioning even the viability of democracy in the US – after the events following the 2020 elections. Voter turnout was robust, and losers acknowledged that they had lost. Democracy clearly emerged as a victor.

We witnessed a global reopening after Covid restrictions. Almost 80% of the US population have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine – with 33% of the population receiving the booster dose.

In technology, the most spectacular breakthrough was the boom in “generative AI” – which is AI trained on vast amounts of data that can generate new media objects. We saw the introduction of AI image generators like Mid journey (an AI program that creates images from textual descriptions from an independent, San Francisco-based research lab), Stable Diffusion (a deep learning, text-to-image model developed at Ludwig Maximillian University, Munich) and DALL-E 2 (an AI system that can create realistic images and art from a description in natural language by San Francisco based OpenAI). OpenAI also introduced ChatGPT – a text generating AI. The goal of GPT-3 (which stands for Generative Pre-trained transformer) is to eventually be able to answer any question that a person might ask. A fun fact: ChatGPT crossed a million users in less than five days.

Yet another good news in technology and science came from Bay Area’s Lawrence Livermore Laboratory when they announced that they achieved the first viable fusion reaction that resulted in more energy released than used to create it. Nuclear fusion is the ultimate in clean energy and could transform global efforts to deal with climate change and greenhouse gas effects. Energy Secretary, Jennifer M. Grandholm hailed this as a “landmark achievement.”

There is certainly a lot to look forward to in 2023. Adoption of AI-augmented automation for infrastructure and operations teams will increase to unprecedented levels. Of course, we can expect a lot of pomp and pageantry at the coronation of King Charles III in May 2023. Here’s wishing the US women the very best in the soccer World Cup in July -August (to be played in Australia – New Zealand). Also, best wishes to the Indian cricket team in the ODI cricket World Cup in October – November (to be played in India).






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