VeeARR! AaaARR! EmmARR! AaaAye!
(Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Somebody was going to do it sooner or later.)
Technologically, 2024 is the beginning of an interesting era in so many ways. The devices for virtual, augmented, and mixed reality are here or in the wings ready to take over the stage. Artificial intelligence is spawning new versions at least twice a week.
All kidding aside, what are we going to do with the information and the agency that the new technologies can deliver to us? That’s a fair question. There are valid concerns about AI “hallucinations” and about the use of pirated intellectual property.
The danger zone
In the case of artificial intelligence, for many of us in creative occupations there is another question. What are we going to be allowed to do with AI? Some companies now forbid unauthorized employee use of AI in their work. In addition to concerns about inadvertent fabrications, it is also possible that AI can “leak” confidential information.
Freelance writers have already lost payment for work because clients claim to have uncovered the use of AI to produce stories (even though AI detection software is notoriously unreliable). Using innocent writing tools can also apparently trigger “detections.” At the same time, news and marketing organizations produce and publish copy created by AI without attribution.
For now, proceed with caution in 2024 where creative AI use is concerned. Find out if your organization requires authorization for use in your work. Write your own copy. Document your sources.
What’s real and what’s not
AR (augmented reality), MR (mixed reality) and VR (virtual reality) are immersive media, with unique aspects to consider when finding and using content. That’s not an exhaustive list of acronyms. There is also extended reality (XR) that grew out of MR. On top of that, marketing departments apparently have employees who lose sleep every night while they add modifiers to existing acronyms, such as branded versions labeled “Mixed Reality” and “Extended Reality” that simply turn out to be VR under a new name. Each technology has its own strengths and use cases.
The biggest development from this alphabet soup seems to be a very hazy ecosystem of devices and technologies. Some of the technologies are for B2B (Business to Business) applications, others are in the B2C (Business to Consumer) range, and still others are more specialized or experimental or some form of X Reality/Umbrella Term. Vet the claims for new products.
What can you do about all the fog?
The world of work will change at a rapid rate over the next five years. Do yourself a favor and be ready for it. Every company you come across between 2024 and 2028 will be looking for a niche, a killer application, a sexy name, a market segment with a profit margin. The big winners that we expect in obvious markets like medicine and others will appear where growth comes from predictable demographic shifts. Other winners will be in markets that have not yet emerged, driven by forces that will become obvious in the next five years as technology changes the nature of work itself.
Your best path in those years is going to be reading everything you can find, talking to every writer, pirate, and expert you can meet, and spending a dedicated and substantial chunk of every week researching and reading about the changes and trying to understand the tea leaves. Learn how to take good notes. Learn to use all the technology that will help you keep the information organized and network your sources. (I recommend the Zettlecasten method for personal knowledge management)