January 2, 2024

Some predictions for 2024

Happy New Year! It’s a cliche at this point to say that we’re in for an unpredictable year. But that won’t stop me from making at least a few predictions about the twelve months ahead. From elections to movies, here’s what I think might happen in 2024 – along with my confidence percentage in each guess.

There will be an AI-related scandal in the 2024 election (90%)

This one is almost a sure thing. If you’re reading this, you’re likely in the top 10% of understanding what’s going on with generative AI and just how much has changed in this space over the past year alone – and you might be able to sift through what’s real and what’s fake. But what happens when the other 90% of us suddenly have to do the same? AI tools have advanced far faster than our ability to handle them culturally, and in a contentious election year, we will see what happens when our ability to discern fact from fiction is destroyed. It’s not going to be pretty.

Shohei Ohtani’s giant contract will be immediately worth it (70%)

Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani signed the largest contract in sports history this winter, and I think it will immediately be worth it to the Los Angeles Dodgers, both on and off the field. First, they’re now widely considered favorites to win at least 1-2 World Series in the next decade. Second, Ohtani is such a marketable global icon that he will earn the team back at least half the contract’s value in sponsorships and other deals in the next few years. I don’t think he’ll win the MVP (he’s taking the year off from pitching after an injury), but I do think the Dodgers at least make the World Series – and that baseball will see its buzziest year in a generation with its biggest star now on one of its most popular teams.

TikTok Shop will make a lot of money but will hurt the platform overall (65%)

If you’ve been on TikTok recently, you have seen just how much the app is pushing people into its new TikTok Shop platform. The app design quickly pushes you into the marketplace with an errant swipe, and seemingly every third creator is pushing product thanks to generous affiliate commissions. But if you flip past those pushy sales videos, you’ll see the beginnings of a backlash against the rapid commercialization of the app, with creators bemoaning the frequency of ads or criticizing the disposable junk being sold for pennies in the shop. I don’t doubt that the company will make billions of dollars through this new feature, but I think it will hurt the overall ecosystem in the long term.

Elon Musk will lose control of Twitter (60%)

Musk’s purchase of Twitter will go down as one of the worst business decisions in history – not just because the company has lost billions of dollars in value and millions of users, but because it destroyed the myth of Elon Musk’s genius. The math on the expenses, the revenue, and the debt is pretty damning, and there is a genuine possibility that Musk will be forced to choose between Twitter and Tesla as his banks and shareholders start to get tired of this game.

Crypto has a tiny bit of bounce back (70%)

We’re already seeing prices of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies slowly climb back up over the last few months, and I think this signals a trend that will continue into the new year. Do I believe all the overhyped nonsense circulating during the previous bull run will come true? Absolutely not. But I do think we’ll begin to see a few more realistic (though likely niche) use cases for NFTs and other crypto tools. With the get-rich-quick dust settling, there will be, finally, some useful applications of this tech.

Apple Vision Pro will be a hit, but you won’t get one (75%)

Apple unveiled its next big swing with Vision Pro in June, its first new major product since the Apple Watch nearly ten years ago. It’s supposed to come out sometime early this year, and I’m going to bet that people will love it. And by people, I mean reviewers and a few die-hard early adopters. Being priced close to $5,000, the product is intentionally a high-end device, and I don’t see it breaking through to widespread use until whatever second version is sure to drop in another year.

Google tries something big to save search (60%)

Perhaps the most disappointing development of the last several years has been the complete degradation of Google’s core search product. It’s impossible to search for something as simple as a new camera without being inundated with SEO garbage, AI filler content, and five different types of ads. Factual queries regularly return misinformation. And the visual design, once hailed as an icon of simplicity and cleanliness, is now cluttered and unusable. I bet that Google will try something big to try and rescue this core product, perhaps using some form of AI, and it will likely cause a seismic disruption for anybody who relies on search for their living.

Media franchises continue to fade (70%)

Last year, the superhero genre began to lose its luster, with major tentpole movies flopping at the box office. Outside of Marvel and DC, Barbie was a hit, but Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and other big franchises didn’t break through on either the big or small screen. After over a decade of every big production being based on bankable IP, I think 2024 is the year that model completely craters. In particular, Disney, which has leaned heavily on monetizing existing IP, stands to be in the most trouble here.

The economy is going to be fine (65%)

2023 started with everybody saying that an “inevitable recession” was around the corner. It turns out, at least by the numbers, that this popular prediction couldn’t have been more wrong – inflation flattened, stocks rose, and unemployment sank. The economy doesn’t always feel great to everybody, but it was a pretty good year if you average things out. Calls of recessions and market crashes are an easy way to get your name in headlines, and predictions of sustained pretty-good-ness don’t get you that same attention. I bet we generally stay the course, and that sentiment will begin to slowly catch up to the statistics.

We discover evidence of alien life (10%)

There is so much cool stuff going on with space exploration right now. There's new info about an ocean on one of Saturn's moons. Venus has organic compounds in its atmosphere. Harvard’s Avi Loeb is doing weird science looking for little tiny bits of interstellar matter in the ocean. We might not make contact with ET this year, but maybe we find out that at least we have some bacteria cousins on other worlds.

About the Author

Ben Guttmann ran a marketing agency for a long time, now he teaches digital marketing at Baruch College, just wrote his first book (Simply Put), and works with cool folks on other projects in-between all of that. He writes about how we experience a world shaped by technology and humanity – and how we can build a better one.

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