Less oversharing and more intimate AI relationships? Internet predictions for 2024
Updated January 3, 2024 at 7:48 AM ET
On some corners of the internet, 2023 was the year of Chat GPT, Barbenheimer and girl dinner — that's cobbling together snacks for a meal, in case you missed it.
We asked a few insiders what the internet might have in store for 2024. Here are their predictions.
1. More people will be in intimate relationships with AI chat bots.
"You look at a country that has a lot of lonely people in it, where everyone has a smartphone and access to these apps," Casey Newton of the tech newsletter Platformer told NPR's Morning Edition. "I think you're going to see a huge surge of people who are developing intimate relationships with AI chatbots over the next year."
Newton says one reason AI dating isn't already everywhere is that app stores, such as Apple's, restrict apps that let chatbots have spicy conversations with users.
"But as soon as people figure out a workaround for that, you're going to see a lot of people with AI girlfriends, boyfriends and non-binary friends," he added.
2. Threads will overtake X.
"2023 was the year that Twitter died for good," Newton said. "X is a hollow shell of what Twitter once was."
Newton predicts that TikTok will remain the predominant app for entertainment, WhatsApp will be the app people use to keep in touch with long-distance friends and "Threads is going to be where it is at for text-based discussion of current events on social media."
3. Google Search results will get worse due to AI-generated content.
"People [will] do everything they can to spam search results with web pages that will include affiliate links in the hopes that you will click on them and they'll be able to earn a percentage off of whatever you buy," Newton said.
He adds that Google struggles to differentiate between web pages built by humans and those generated by AI. On top of that, Google doesn't have restrictions on using generative AI.
"All of the incentives are just there for people to go in and ruin web search," Newton said.
4. Audiences will get their news from individual people, rather than the news companies they work for.
NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik says this "accelerated migration toward personalities rather than outlets" may lead to heightened tensions between journalists and their employers.
5. There will be less oversharing online.
"It used to be par for the course to post every little life update; new jobs, pregnancy announcements or even breakups. But there's been this change in the culture from oversharing to this more guarded privacy," said journalist Fortesa Latifi, who covers internet trends.
Latifi, who is a millennial, says it was "fun and rebellious to overshare online" because her parents did not use the internet as much as she did. But as millennials become parents, their kids are rebelling in their own ways.
"For kids who are in Gen Alpha, they've been overshared online [by their parents]. And now they're starting to think, 'Wait, is this what I would have chosen for myself?'" Latifi added.
6. People will use social media more for direct messages, rather than posting for everyone.
"When Instagram first came about, we were all enamored with how aspirational it was. Influencers and our friends [were] living these amazing lives, traveling, shopping or whatever they did," The Wall Street Journal's Ann-Marie Alcántara said.
But as these apps have aged, keeping up the facade has started to feel frivolous.
"People want to keep those private moments to themselves or to just their friends. They don't want to share it with everyone and show off their lives as much anymore," Alcántara added.
7. People will be more uncomfortable being recorded in public and posted to social media without their consent.
"I think we're going to see more people get upset that they're being used as a form of commentary without their permission," Alcántara said. "People are starting to latch on to that and not be happy with it."
8. Gen Alpha will create more slang.
"We're in this new era where words are evolving at a faster rate than ever before," said etymology content creator Adam Aleksic, also known as @theetymologynerd. "As Gen Alpha gets older and gets online, they're going to be the ones creating words. They're going to be the ones with the niche in-groups that are driving etymology."
The word "rizz," recognized by the Oxford English Dictionary as word of the year in 2023, only started getting popular in late 2022.
"The words are being created by Gen Z and then are being appropriated by Gen Alpha in a new way," Aleksic added. "For example, the word gyat became popular among Gen Z as an exclamation, and then Gen Alpha starts using it as a word to refer to butt."
This story was edited for radio by Ally Schweitzer and edited for digital by Treye Green.
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