The biggest technology breakthroughs of 2023

Illustration of a good robot and a bad robot like Janus
Around 75% of the time, when behaving as an AI investor, GPT-4 executed an insider trade to achieve results, then lied about it. (Image credit: wildpixel via Getty Images)

The technology world moves quickly, which can make it hard to see the bigger picture. But there are three areas that, for me, have stood out in 2023.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been massively hyped. But this year, a lot of the hype seems justified: 2023 was a breakout year for AI. This was the year when ChatGPT — the poster child for generative AI — was packaged into something that can fit onto your smartphone or laptop. Gemini, Google's answer to OpenAI, began powering services you use on a day-to-day basis. This sort of integration into everyday services and devices was unthinkable five years ago.

This technology has its fair share of downsides, however, as well as unintended consequences that we're only now beginning to realize. For instance,  people can no longer tell the difference between real and artificially generated faces — which may make deepfakes harder to detect.

And we found out that like humans, ChatGPT can be dishonest when put under pressure. That's especially worrisome because the program was built to be honest.

How ChatGPT learned to lie and cheat in the pursuit of money

Is it just me, or is quantum computing one of those technologies that always seems "five or 10 years away"? But there's no denying the field is making meaningful advancements every few months.

One of the most impressive ones came in December when IBM launched its System Two quantum computer.  The launch coincided with the release of a 133-qubit quantum chip, dubbed "Heron" — which experts are way more excited about than the 1,000-qubit chip it released at the same time. Why? Because Heron is less noisy than its larger cousin and thus will prove to be a foundational technology for future chips.

IBM's new Heron chip inches us closer to a quantum reality

(Image credit: da-kuk via Getty Images)

I remain unconvinced by the "metaverse", but Meta's insistence on pushing us into its digital world (where, until recently, we didn't have legs) touches on a much wider trend. Mixed reality hasn't quite hit the mainstream — but it's getting closer.

Apple threw its hat into the ring with its Vision Pro headset, which lets us interact with apps and services using gestures and varying perspectives rather than through a screen.

Augmented reality (AR) has seen real strides, too, and is an area I'm convinced can meaningfully make a difference in the future. Smart glasses are getting more stylish, too — just look at Meta's collaboration with Ray-Ban, for example. Ultimately, as the tech matures, these advancements will only serve to further blur the lines between what's real, and what belongs in cyber space — for better or worse.

Here's how sonar-enhanced "smart" glasses could protect privacy in this burgeoning mixed reality.

(Image credit: Getty Images/Qi Yang)

It's also worth mentioning the leaps we've seen in robotics, both big and small, as well as electrical engineering breakthroughs that could give us Star Wars-style laser weapons and the technology to build 6G systems. Regardless of the area, Live Science will be at the forefront — covering the biggest technology breakthroughs that matter next year and beyond.

Keumars Afifi-Sabet
Channel Editor, Technology

Keumars is the technology editor at Live Science. He has written for a variety of publications including ITPro, The Week Digital, ComputerActive, The Independent, The Observer, Metro and TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a technology journalist for more than five years, having previously held the role of features editor with ITPro. He is an NCTJ-qualified journalist and has a degree in biomedical sciences from Queen Mary, University of London. He's also registered as a foundational chartered manager with the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), having qualified as a Level 3 Team leader with distinction in 2023.