A New ‘Tech Supercycle’ is Emerging – SXSW 2024

Futurist Amy Webb returns to SXSW with her 2024 Tech Trends Report

Deborah Yao, Editor

March 12, 2024

3 Min Read
Photo of Amy Webb

At a Glance

  • A new 'tech supercycle' is emerging - a period of booming demand that elevates the prices of assets to unprecedented heights.
  • Unlike prior tech supercycles, this time three technologies are driving it: AI, connected ecosystem of things and biotech.

AI and two other general purpose technologies will usher in a new “tech supercycle” that is expected to create “substantial and sustained” changes in the economy, according to futurist Amy Webb.

Past tech supercycles were sparked by general purpose technology like electricity, the steam engine that kicked off the industrial revolution, and the internet that brought society into the digital world, she said at SXSW 2024.

But this tech supercycle is different in that instead of just one tech driving the change, it is a convergence of three: AI, connected ecosystem of things and biotechnology.

“This is an exhilarating time to be alive,” said Webb, CEO of the Future Today Institute. “AI is the present. It’s here.”

These three technologies began converging two years ago and created a “flywheel of big leaps,” she said. Some examples are AI-enabled tech breakthroughs in biotech wearables intended for hospitals or professional sports, as well as smart watches and rings.

“Once that flywheel got spinning, it created new value for consumers, it created more practical utility that led to more funding, it attracted talent and that kind of brings us to where we are today,” Webb continued.

Webb’s team noticed that a ‘tech supercycle’ was emerging in the third quarter of 2023. This is an economic term that means an “extended period of booming demand that elevates the prices of commodities and assets to unprecedented heights.”

Related:AMD CEO Gets Down at SXSW 2024

This supercycle can last for years or even decades and create substantial changes in the economy, she said.

The three technologies in this supercycle connect in some way to every other technology that exists in every facet of our daily lives, Webb said. That means “the wave of innovation that’s coming is so intense, so potent and so pervasive, it will literally reshape our human existence.”

Some of her predictions:

Concept to concrete AI: AI models will become smarter in that it will figure out what you mean even if your prompts are not very specific. This is already being seen in video generation models Pika and OpenAI’s Sora.

Unsecured AI: As open models proliferate, it will lead to more ways to manipulate them in an unprecedented manner. It will also create an accountability crisis – who is responsible for misuse of AI models? Is it the platforms if their users generate harmful content or apps?

Webb envisioned someone one day creating a deepfake historical event complete with video, narratives, avatars, blogs and other materials. For example, a fake tragic event in Gaza could trigger an all-out war.

Related:OpenAI Will Always Offer a Free ChatGPT Version – SXSW 2024

‘Connectables’: As AI models need more data to train, there will be an influx of new devices with sensors to collect even more data from users. They can be sensor data or visual data. This information will lead to what Webb calls Large Action Models (LAMs), similar to AI agents.

Spatial computing malware: As more people use AR/VR headsets for work and play – a trend sparked by Apple’s Vision Pro – especially when prices come down, a new kind of malware can emerge. Imagine that a bad actor throws a virtual ball at you and you move your hand to block it. That hand gesture could trigger a malware download, she said.

Generative biology: There is generative AI and then there is generative biology. Together.ai and Arc Institute just launched Evo, which uses language of biology (DNA, RNA and proteins) to predict molecules and genomes.

About the Author(s)

Deborah Yao


Deborah Yao runs the day-to-day operations of AI Business. She is a Stanford grad who has worked at Amazon, Wharton School and Associated Press.

Keep up with the ever-evolving AI landscape
Unlock exclusive AI content by subscribing to our newsletter!!

You May Also Like