Top Tech and Dev Trends for 2024
At Big Human, we’re always on the lookout for what’s new and novel in the digital space. When we find something that catches our eye, we tend to iterate on it ourselves — with our dev team spearheading all things tech. Software engineers are often at the forefront of innovation, making discoveries or improving existing ones. But as they sift through what’s worthwhile and what’s not, there’s one thing they’re all keeping tabs on: artificial intelligence. In our list below, you’ll see there’s virtually no facet of our digital world that AI won’t touch this year, or in the next few.
“Anybody just getting started in software engineering should be working with AI. If it were me, I’d have that all over my resume. You won’t have a chance without it.” - David Hudson
No surprises here. While it dates back to before the Common Era, artificial intelligence saw accelerated growth last year, propelled by machine learning and large language models (LLMs). “The biggest things that changed for engineering in 2023 and will continue to change in 2024 are LLMs,” David says. LLMs are the foundation for the dozens of chatbots we use today; in the coming months, we’ll see companies fine-tune their LLMs’ code to offer more advanced capabilities and intuitive conversations.
The chatbots we know (ChatGPT, Bard, and more) are trained using both publicly and non-publicly available information, but they’re still unable to separate fact from fiction. For the sake of accuracy — and efficiency — developers are experimenting more with small language models (SLMs), compact versions that require less time, money, and data to train and operate.
However, there is a caveat. “LLMs are very, very powerful,” David warns. “They can be really great, but also kind of scary.” Since chatbots are cloud-based tools that save and continue to learn from the data users give them, there will be a greater emphasis on personal and public security in 2024. Watch for new legislation and compliance regulations from governments across the world and increased, self-imposed security measures on open-source AI platforms.
Since its launch in 2020, ChatGPT has only gotten smarter and quicker, spawning copycats eager to replicate its abilities. As other chatbots struggle to compete, humans will, too; new technology has a history of eliminating jobs. (“Can a junior engineer code faster, or even just as fast, as ChatGPT?” David asks.) But for engineering, artificial intelligence isn’t necessarily the enemy… As previous AI experience becomes a basic job requirement, developers should treat it the same way they treat certain coding languages and platforms: It’s a skill set that’ll bring you to the top of the applicant list.
“This has never been possible before — ever.”
Though text-to-speech is decades old, AI-generated voice is in its heyday, showing us just how far technology has come. You might remember last year’s frenzy surrounding AI voice generation and cloning; it was — and still is — used to produce deepfakes of our favorite musicians, recreate the sound of a loved one, and, unfortunately, scam innocent, unsuspecting people. For better or worse, AI voice capabilities are improving, with ElevenLabs regarded as one of the best platforms on the market. Some liken AI voice cloning to Ursula stealing Ariel’s warbled melodies in The Little Mermaid, but David, who has digitally replicated his own voice (“it’s hard to distinguish myself from myself”), sees it as another technological pivot. As AI-generated voices are almost indiscernible from real humans, “we’ll likely see a lot more videos done by AI presenters.” “If it’s just reading the news, you don’t need humans for that.” In the coming years, software engineers will be tasked with using artificial intelligence to both iterate on voice generation and protect people from it.
“Because of AI, we can code faster. If we can code faster, we can have more customizations.”
Instagram’s Explore page and Netflix’s “Because You Watched” feeds are uncannily accurate, sometimes overwhelmingly; these platforms interpret data from our past interactions to curate what’s most relevant to us. With so much content floating around the web, 2024 will be the era of hyper-personalization and increased customer-centricity, touching everything from TV show suggestions to marketing campaigns. By maximizing artificial intelligence and machine learning, developers will be content custodians, filtering user data to create highly customized experiences almost instantly.
“People are finally picking up on this; they’re even fully decking out trains with IoT.”
When we link smart objects like the Google Nest and Alexa to our home wifi, we add them to the Internet of Things, a network that allows multiple devices to connect and share data. This network gives us the ability to monitor and control the features in our homes, like temperature and lighting. Now, that digital ecosystem is modernizing industries across the board, including logistics and transportation. When it comes to trains, the integration of IoT is making for a more intelligent and efficient experience. For example, by leveraging AI, railway operators can track train capacities to prevent overcrowding, scan diagnostics for maintenance and repairs, and even automate safety alerts.
This year (and in the next few years), we’ll see a rise in the Internet of Behavior, an extension of IoT that uses the same network and technologies to study and predict human behavior. One of the most well-known IoB use cases is Spotify; the streaming platform’s highly anticipated Spotify Wrapped packages users’ yearly listening data and behavior into trendy, Instagrammable graphics. IoB is what also helps Spotify provide users with music recommendations tailored to their tastes — another byproduct of AI’s increased personalization capabilities.
“It’s going from a toy to something professional.”
While AR and VR integrations are primarily regarded as design considerations, David says they affect engineers, too. Someone needs to build the experience, after all. These technologies have largely been integrated into gaming devices, but in 2024, spatial computing will shift toward more practical, everyday uses: immersive entertainment, life-sized video calls, scalable web browsing, and more. You’ll want to look closely at the Apple Vision Pro, a device David, among a select few, got to demo before its release. “Apple Vision Pro is different,” he says. “It’s a real, viable computer on your head.” For David, the biggest and most important change is in the quality. With better graphics, sound, and overall user experience, the Vision Pro will mark the start of increasingly blended realities, bringing the tech we’ve seen in movies into the comfort of our own homes.
Looking to improve your AI capabilities this year? Get in touch.