Today is the last day of an incredible year marked by achievements in AI and LLM, that led to waterfall changes in engineering productivity, programming languages, and technologies. Furthermore, the VR world has been buzzing with numerous news, as well as the realm of cybersecurity has experienced substantial incidents alongside massive layoffs at tech giants and other companies.
LLMs and diffusion models continue to drive real-world breakthroughs. Their capabilities in creative text generation, code writing, and other fields are truly remarkable.
Organizations are using AI tools to improve efficiency and streamline workflows. McKinsey reports that one-third of surveyed companies regularly use generative AI. Moreover, 70% of survey respondents (professional developers) are currently using or intend to use AI tools in their development processes.
At the same time, AI focused startups raised over $18 billion from VC and corporate investors. That’s the new era we’re entering now.
In March, OpenAI launched APIs for ChatGPT and a text-to-speech model called Whisper. OpenAI also released a bunch of plugins for ChatGPT and officially launched its most advanced AI model, GPT-4.
EU’s AI Act, passed in April 2023, sets the first comprehensive regulatory framework for AI, classifying AI systems by risk level and establishing development, deployment, and monitoring requirements.
In July, Meta introduced Llama2 and simultaneously, Anthropic unveiled Claude2.
OpenAI has grown significantly in September. It introduced real-time web browsing capabilities to ChatGPT and continued its exploration of creative AI with the introduction of DALL·E 3. Elon Musk’s AI startup, xAI, unveiled the AI chatbot “Grok”. Pika 1.0, entered the scene as a new model for video creation and Stability AI released Stable Video Diffusion. AWS also stepped in by releasing Amazon Q, the first chatbot specifically designed for companies.
In November, OpenAI started a sitcom with Altman’s leaving. No comments.
At the end of the year, Google’s next-generation AI model, Gemini, takes center stage, “outperforming” GPT-4. Apple has just entered the open-source arena with the introduction of a machine learning framework, MLX.
GPT-4 is the master of all surveys.
GPT-4 is beating every other LLM on both classic benchmarks and exams designed to evaluate humans. Top choice for AI search tools is ChatGPT: 83% of respondents have used it in the past year. This is above and beyond the second choice of Bing AI with 20% having used it.
NVIDIA record earnings.
Nvidia published its financial results for the third quarter of its fiscal 2024, which ended on October 29, 2023. The company made $18.12 billion and set a new record as demand for all its products increased. Nvidia’s data center business did very well because there was a lot of demand for its GPUs used for AI.
Retrieval Augmented Generation (RAG).
RAG is becoming more popular for using an external knowledge base to provide accurate and up-to-date information to large language models (LLMs). To create an RAG pipeline or system, we can use the well-known and easy-to-use framework called LangChain and vector databases, such as Qdrant, Chroma and Pinecone.
This year, people are very focused on boosting the productivity of engineers. Constantly, new copilots and other intelligent AI tools are being continuously introduced. According to surveys, a significant percentage (70%) of respondents are utilizing or are intending to utilize AI tools in their development process in the current year.
At my current job, we’ve split into two groups: one in favor of Tabnine and the other supporting GitHub Copilot. As a result, we’ve made a lot of experiments and end up with GitHub. GitHub Copilot is the most popular AI developer tool, used by 55% of respondents in the last survey. This is four times more than Tabnine, which was used by 13% of respondents.
At the end of the year, JetBrains introduced their AI Assistant that is highly integrated into their IDEs. People think GitHub Copilot is better for real-time inline suggestions, but the AI assistant has cool features like writing commit messages. Some say it’s a little green right now, but let’s see.
Also, GitHub revealed that it will be rolling out a new enterprise Copilot subscription costing $39/month. From February 2024, GitHub Copilot Enterprise will include the existing business plan with the ability for companies to personalize Copilot Chat for their codebase and fine-tune the underlying models.
Another trend that I see almost several years from now is low-code development. Gartner predicts that by 2026, 75% of new application development will be done using low-code tools. This is because organizations are under pressure to adapt rapidly to changing trends. Such platforms like Mendix, Appian and Microsoft Power Apps become more and more sophisticated and innovative.
A year of record-breaking DDOS attacks.
DDoS attacks were reported on October 10 and started during August. Cloud service providers said the attacks were part of a mass exploit of a zero-day vulnerability. Google said it was the biggest DDoS attack so far, reaching more than 398 million requests per second (rps). At the same time, Cloudflare reported an attack three times larger than previous ones, with over 201 million rps. And even Amazon’s web services division said it had faced “a new type of DDoS event”. Three companies were targeted with the same DDOS attack known as “Rapid Reset”, which exploits a vulnerability in HTTP/2 (CVE-2023–44487).
According to Zayo’s 2023 DDoS Insights Report cyberattacks and threats have surged 200% over the past year.
A hell of a year for data breaches.
In January, T-Mobile announced that hackers exploited an API vulnerability to obtain information from customer accounts. Approximately 37 million accounts may have been impacted by the data breach. The attack started in November 2022 and the incident was closed only in January 2023. In September, they had “glitch” the T-Mobile app was showing customers information on other customers. But it was corrected immediately and affected only 100 customers.
3CX, a software phone system maker, is used by over 600k organizations globally, with more than 12 million active daily users. In March, the company experienced a cyberattack, where hackers aimed to infect its downstream customers by inserting malware into the 3CX client software during its development phase.
At the end of the year, genetic testing company 23andMe announced that hackers accessed the personal data of 0.1% users, and they were able to access “a significant number of files containing profile information about other users’ ancestry.” In the end, the “other users” number became 6.9 million.
LockBit ransomware remains a major threat, affecting over a quarter of attacks globally. However, its impact is diminishing due to the increasing diversity of RaaS (Ransomware as a Service) attacks.
In January of this year, the Royal Mail experienced a ransomware attack by LockBit, blocking international shipments by encrypting the UK postal service’s files. No agreement was reached after two weeks of negotiations. A ransom demand of $80 million was then made, which is equivalent to 0.5% of the company’s revenue. Royal Mail refused to pay the ransom, risking data leakage, which unfortunately occurred.
After a while, the US branch of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China fell victim to a ransomware attack, becoming one of many targets chosen by hackers demanding ransom this year. LockBit group has admitted to the attack and stated that the bank paid a ransom to regain control of its systems.
Exploitation of a zero-day vulnerability in MOVEit by the Clop group has been one of the most significant cybersecurity news this year. Since May 27th, this vulnerability has been mercilessly exploited, giving rise to a series of data breaches in the following weeks. Currently, the number of victims is estimated to be around 600 organizations, affecting close to 40 million people. The estimated cost of the MOVEit mass-attacks is about $9.9 billion, based on the average cost of data breaches and the number of individuals affected.
Just to sum up, this year’s attacks have evolved to be more innovative, and AI has certainly had a significant impact on this field. AI tools now work on both sides for attackers and defenders. So, the next year will be even more intriguing.
Cybersecurity will remain “high-yield” next year because global spending on it is expected to increase by 14.3% to $215 billion in 2024, according to a Gartner report.
Overall, 2023 was a year of growth and innovation in the field of VR. We witnessed the release of new headsets, games, and applications.
In February, Sony released the PlayStation VR2 (PS VR2) headset for the PlayStation 5. In October, Meta Quest 3 was unveiled and priced at $499. The only secret that is still not available is Apple Vision Pro. Apple’s first “spatial computing” device, the Vision Pro, has been known for over six months. However, it remains one of the biggest uncertainties in the world of consumer electronics as we enter the new year. The $3,499 headset was announced at WWDC in June with an expected release time frame of “early-2024”. However, no further details have been provided by the company regarding the specific release date.
Game Of The Year.
The most popular VR game released in 2023 is Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR. The game was released on December 1, 2023, and has been downloaded over 1.5 million times.
Education. VR is used for training employees in new skills or processes. For instance, Shell utilizes VR to train employees on how to safely handle hazardous materials. American Airlines uses VR to train pilots on flying in challenging conditions. Also, Google Education employs VR to create virtual tours of historical landmarks.
Presentations. VR is employed to create more engaging and interactive presentations. For example, Boeing uses VR to showcase new aircraft to potential clients.
Mental Health. VR is used for treating mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or anxiety. For example, Psilocybin Wellness utilizes VR for treating PTSD.
Rehabilitation. VR is used for rehabilitating patients who have suffered injuries or illnesses. For example, Intuitive Surgical uses VR for the rehabilitation of patients who have undergone knee surgery.
Real estate. Patricio Navarro, CEO and co-founder of Yupix, said that VR can reduce the time that properties are on the market based on his experience. Yupix uses headsets and Unreal Engine, a tool that creates 3D photoreal visuals, to put together its home tours. Clients can have virtual tours of properties in New York City and a 100-story building in Miami in just a few seconds.
Many well-known tech companies, especially in the US, have had to lay off a large number of employees in 2023. The main reason for this is the current economy and the need to make changes after the rapid hiring that happened during the pandemic.
The most critical metric for tech companies in 2023 became ARR per employee (annual recurring revenue) which provides a clear picture of the efficiency of the business and the impact of each new employee.
Recent layoffs, including those at LinkedIn, Cisco Systems, and Epic Games, point to a continued trend in the coming year. As companies strive for operational efficiency and cost reduction or “right-sizing”. Unfortunately, I expect the same in the next year.