January 11, 2024

Technologies that will reshape our world in 2024: Three predictions

Dive into the latest perspectives, insights,
and updates from our global community.

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As we enter 2024, the technological landscape is poised for transformative change. We asked three NGP Capital investors — Bo Ilsoe, Christian Noske, and Upal Basu — for their perspectives on the technologies they believe will reshape our world in 2024. From AI advancements to industrial tech evolution, these insights offer a glimpse into the future of technology and its impact on multiple industries.

Bo Ilsoe, Managing Partner: Convergence will flourish in 2024

NGP Capital Managing Partner Bo Ilsoe believes in the transformative and magical effects technology can deliver to everyone. Bo is excited about many new technologies in 2024, including AI — the buzzy technology of this year. “The most recent breakthrough in AI with LLMs will power a new generation of innovation and dramatically lower the barriers between human and machine by enabling natural language interactions. Everyone, I mean everyone, will become a programmer! Gone are the days where you need to master obscure programming languages and weird syntax. At present we call it ‘prompt engineering’ but in a brief span of time even that term will disappear, and we will just naturally engage with computing systems and machines across the board,” Bo explains.

Beyond software, Bo looks at 2024 as a year where convergence flourishes. “Machines and computers need to be much better at ‘feeling’ (sensors) the physical world and they need to be much more effective in acting (actuators) in the physical space.”, Bo explains, and he goes further; “Most of our physical environment is built for humans, and much innovation is required for robots and systems to effectively navigate our homes or factories. That’s why we will require further miniaturization of and intelligence in actuators and sensors,” Bo says.

Beyond miniaturization, advances in industrial hardware construction will be important for adopting robotics. “Innovation in power sources and battery technologies is required as robots tend to be heavy and power hungry. It will likely require new, more flexible, and lighter materials as well.” Like we’ve seen with other hardware technologies, it’s just a matter of time before these physical changes are a reality.

Christian Noske, Partner: Industrial tech data flows begin to scale

As an investor focused on industrial tech, it’s no surprise that NGP Capital Partner Christian Noske is focused on how deep tech is used in industrial spaces, specifically generative AI tools and their application. “I think the industrial interface is changing. The professional with 20 years of experience telling an industrial machine what to do is being replaced with a natural voice interface supported by generative AI.” Christian believes that generative AI is and will continue to be a big driver of that shift in industrial tech in 2024 and beyond.

When it comes to industrial tech software, Christian thinks we may be moving from a time of siloed software and hardware solutions to one where interoperability becomes more commonplace. “There are a lot of siloed solutions, but there is already an ROI and business case for that. We haven’t seen different puzzle pieces coming together and having a beautiful orchestra of deep tech solutions working together.” When the information flows from different technologies communicate with each other, then we eliminate the need for a human in the system. This could look like data from robotic hardware (such as NGP Capital portfolio company ANYbotics) connecting to a separate camera technology (such as Protex AI) to create meaningful insights and efficiencies.

Ultimately, Christian is really excited to see the technologies of today begin to scale in a meaningful way. “We see the early things of what's possible. By having more use cases available, it will just be a matter of scale for many of the solutions that we have experienced, but never really seen the the potential impact of yet.” An example of this is robotic automation in the industrial and manufacturing spaces. The technology is growing, but adoption is slow. He expects this will change.

Upal Basu, Partner: AI will change everything

NGP Capital Partner Upal Basu, has been extensively using generative AI tools such as ChatGPT4, Claude and Bard in both professional and personal worlds. He believes that the capabilities of Gen AI have been overhyped over the short term but will be transformational over the next decade and beyond.  

He draws analogies with the dotcom boom of late 1990s when there was a similar belief in the potential of the internet, which was eventually fulfilled a decade later through cloud computing and smartphones. “AI will change the way we live and work, but the most impactful use cases that deliver on these promises are yet to be invented. An AI first application will not just be a conversational or chat interface but will re-imaging the job-to-be-done from first principles and leverage the best elements of Cloud, the edge, and new forms of interfaces to create new experiences.”

Upal encourages entrepreneurs to not think of AI as an extension of Cloud Computing or today’s popular applications but as a new paradigm. Many of the benefits of AI will soon be delivered via edge devices without resorting to expensive GPU based centralized architectures. Much of the current user workflows built around rigid menus and navigation buttons could become irrelevant in the future due to the application’s ability to understand and personalize the application for each user’s unique behavior and needs. “I seriously believe that there’s a tendency in our industry to use the innovations of the last five years and extrapolate those. People think Gen AI can make PowerPoint or Excel work better because they extrapolate these as layers on top of an existing technology, rather than asking the more fundamental question- what is the purpose of a presentation or an analysis? Is there a better way to get to the end objective?”

Upal also believes that the many technologies in the last decades, from PC to Client Server to Internet and Mobile have benefited white collar professions with limited impact on the broader workforce. Upal points out that blue-collar jobs, which represent nearly 60% of the U.S. workforce, did not materially become more productive from the last 20 years of the internet. Gen AI brings tools and capabilities that can truly transform traditional industries and make employees much more productive “We are at an inflection point.” 

Looking ahead to 2024

As we start 2024, consider these possibilities for where tech could go in the coming year. Technology has shown us again and again that when we rethink the boundaries, anything can be possible. Happy New Year!