Outlook on 2024: Every Company Will Soon Become an AI Company

Rainbow AI Circuit board graphic

Generative AI – in less than a year – has swept across the nation and the world, holding out incredible promise for really transforming the way that we live, work, and play.  While it’s early days, you don’t have to spend much time on ChatGPT or Perplexity.AI to know that the way we’ve long done things is about to change and change quickly.

Soon, there will be one set of companies that will develop these AI tools. There will be another set of companies that figure out a way to harness these AI tools to help achieve their business ends.  And there will be a third set that clings to more traditional ways, and which are likely to be left behind.

So before too long, every company will become an AI company.

But just like with the advent of social media, there’s likely to be a backlash… and this one will come sooner, harder, and with more impact.

Policymakers – from the White House to the statehouse – are rightly concerned about AI’s impact on jobs, the economy, and the dignity of work.  California is today leading the way when it comes to AI legislation, but soon these questions will be before Congress and virtually every state legislative body.  

As we think about the torrent of regulation and laws that will be considered, here are 7 predictions for 2024.

  1. California will be the epicenter of the early action.  As the home of Silicon Valley, California has become ground zero for legislative fights about regulation.  Think about the TNC wars, the California privacy law, and discussions about social media and disinformation.  AI will be no different.  And because the stakes are higher, expect the battles to be more fierce. We’ve already seen legislation from Senators Steve Padilla, Bill Dodd, and Scott Wiener focusing on non-discrimination, a regulatory roadmap, and the safe development of AI models, respectively.  Expect an avalanche of other legislation before too long.
  2. What happens in California won’t stay in California. Every other state lawmaker will look to the battles in California as they consider action in their homes.  Which types of legislation take hold and which fall flat. They will import and iterate and expand on the California bills in a way that makes sense for their state.  In 2023, lawmakers in 25 states along with Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, introduced artificial intelligence (AI) bills.  So many more to come.
  3. Congress and federal agencies will address AI, but probably not this year.  Congress has been considering privacy legislation for more than a decade, and the reality is that members will also put forward a raft of legislation on AI in the coming weeks and months.  But it’s hard to see – with only a limited number of legislative days in 2024 – how there will be time to fully consider meaningful AI legislation.  That won’t mean that some bills which nibble around the edges won’t pass, but comprehensive legislation will almost certainly be put off for another time.
  4. Yet, whether in Congress or the state level, the biggest concern will be about job displacement.  The innovation industry better launch serious studies about how AI will impact jobs because this is an issue with power on both sides of the political aisle.  
  5. There will be an effort to put a shine on AI, but they will fall flat.  AI is so powerful that its genius will be seen and acknowledged by virtually everyone who uses it, but that doesn’t mean that marketing campaigns that simply tout AI as an unassailable good will work.  Nuanced efforts – that acknowledge some of the more concerning aspects of the technology – will be far more effective.
  6. The corollary to #4 is that fear campaigns which label AI as an existential threat will also fail miserably. Yes, reasonable people will have reasonable concerns about AI, but it does not rise to the level of the concerns over climate change.  Skynet is not coming… at least not today.
  7. The key to AI is specificity.  When people are talking at the 30,000 foot level it’s easy to address it with broad strokes – whether as a massive good or a massive threat.  But when it becomes clear how AI is helping solve real problems – from diagnosing cancer earlier to helping address national security threats – it becomes much harder to dismiss its value and importance.

We’re all learning the language of AI – Large Language Models, Neural Networks, Natural Language Processing, and Deep Learning.  Most of us don’t really understand how it all works together.

Over the next weeks and months and years, we will see how this powerful technology develops and the ways in which lawmakers establish rules of the road for responsible AI.