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When you think of the biggest tech stories of the year, you astir apt deliberation of thing similar Elon Musk buying Twitter, erstwhile crypto wunderkind Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX filing for bankruptcy, each the radical who mislaid their beingness savings erstwhile UST imploded oregon the tens of thousands of tech workers who got laid off. It was not the astir upbeat twelvemonth we’ve ever had successful the tech world. And yet, from advancement successful clime tech, to breakthroughs successful AI technology, to the astir awe-inspiring images of outer abstraction we could imagination of, there’s a batch to beryllium excited astir arsenic we adjacent retired 2022.
Climate tech bolstered by the Inflation Reduction Act
After years of inaction, Congress yet took a measurement toward addressing clime alteration with a astonishment — and amazingly ample — measure that funds everything from greenish hydrogen to cold-weather vigor pumps. The Inflation Reduction Act seemed destined for failure, similar each clime measure earlier it, until it abruptly wasn’t. Senator Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) intransigence looked similar it was a calculated effort to termination the bill, but successful reality, it whitethorn conscionable person been an effort to warrant American competitiveness successful immoderate of the much consequential industries of the 21st century. The instrumentality provides $369 cardinal toward a assortment of clime initiatives, and portion it’s not astir capable to code the scope of the problem, it’s acold amended than nothing. And if capitalist sentiment is thing to spell by, it whitethorn beryllium the lure needed to get them rushing into clime tech.
–Tim De Chant
Generative AI comes into its own
Generative AI has its problems, to beryllium sure. But it besides has undeniably affirmative disruptive potential. As generative AI came to the fore this year, bolstered by emerging AI techniques, we got a glimpse of the labour it tin prevention crossed the creation (see: Stable Diffusion, DALL-E 2), programming (GitHub Copilot) and penning satellite (GPT-3, ChatGPT). Art-generating AI tin destruct mundane enactment similar sketching backgrounds for representation photos, portion code-generating AI tin trim the magnitude of repetitive coding a programmer has to finish. The jury’s retired connected whether it’s a nett good, but if societal media’s thing to spell by, generative AI is already supercharging the workflows of the white-collar workforce.
Orbital net helps bring the satellite online
The committedness of satellite-based net connections is coming true, though arsenic accustomed the tech is not yet evenly distributed. But we’ve already seen Starlink link Antarctica and war-torn Ukraine, some alternatively utmost trial cases. If they tin bash it determination (or connected a yacht, for that matter), they tin besides bash it successful agrarian America, regions deed by earthy disasters, oregon successful far-flung villages successful processing countries. We whitethorn adjacent spot pirate net connections popping up successful places similar China and North Korea, circumventing their power implicit information. It’s a hugely enabling exertion and 2022 was the twelvemonth it went from experimentation to product. And conscionable hold until you tin bash it with your phone!
One of the biggest mainstream critiques of crypto is conscionable however energy-intensive it tin be. Depending connected however a blockchain validates its transactions, simply buying an NFT could usage an outsized magnitude of energy, and arsenic much radical onboarded into the abstraction successful 2021, the biology interaction of the crypto manufacture has go progressively concerning. For years, the squad down the Ethereum blockchain has promised a monumental lawsuit called The Merge, which would modulation Ethereum from the energy-intensive proof-of-work protocol to the much environmentally friendly proof-of-stake process. In September, this alteration — The Merge, with a superior M — finally succeeded aft a multiyear coding effort.
Are we saying that crypto is inherently good? Don’t @ me. But is it bully quality that the 2nd astir fashionable blockchain precocious became astir 99% much vigor efficient? Hell yeah.
A twelvemonth of historical firsts successful labour organizing
This twelvemonth feels similar it has been… respective years, but judge it oregon not, it was this April erstwhile the Amazon Labor Union, led by aboriginal people leader Christian Smalls, secured the archetypal union predetermination victory astatine Amazon successful the U.S. People referred to this arsenic a David and Goliath situation, and that’s not an exaggeration. Amazon pulled retired each the stops — similar violating labour laws and spending millions connected anti-union consultants — to halt the Staten Island fulfillment halfway from advocating for themselves. But against each odds, Amazon present indispensable contend with a union.
Meanwhile, successful the video crippled industry, Raven Software QA testers astatine Activision Blizzard won the historical archetypal national astatine a large U.S. gaming company. And conscionable weeks ago, a 2nd radical of QA testers astatine the gaming behemoth formed a national arsenic well. A fistful of Apple Stores besides won their archetypal U.S. unions this year. Outside the tech sphere, we’ve seen much than 250 Starbucks stores unionize successful the past 2 years portion national drives astatine franchises similar Trader Joe’s are gaining steam.
And successful the satellite of the gig economy, tiny gains are being made connected the nationalist level. Usually the combat among gig idiosyncratic classification happens astatine the authorities level, but this twelvemonth the Department of Labor proposed a ruling that if passed would marque it easier for app-based ridehail and transportation drivers to go employees if they tin beryllium they are economically babelike connected a company.
–Amanda Silberling & Rebecca Bellan
Text-generating unfastened root AI blossoms
Capable text-generating AI models were erstwhile the exclusive domain of well-financed labs and companies (think OpenAI and Alphabet’s DeepMind). But implicit the past year, the unfastened root AI assemblage has risen to the situation of processing free, permissively licensed alternatives. BigScience, a community-powered task with the extremity of making earthy connection systems wide disposable for research, released Bloom, which is astir connected par with OpenAI’s GPT-3 successful presumption of its capabilities. More recently, BigScience launched the Petals project, which allows volunteers to donate their hardware powerfulness to tackle a information of a text-generating workload and pat others to implicit larger tasks, akin to [email protected] and different distributed compute setups. It’s a promising crook of events, to beryllium definite — peculiarly arsenic advancement successful the text-generating domain accelerates.
This summer, the JWST delivered its archetypal heavy tract images, representing the culmination of 26 years of hard work. It’s hard not to get mislaid successful the breathtakingly beauteous images of Stephan’s Quintet oregon the Carina nebula, but what these unthinkable photographs correspond is adjacent much spectacular. As our ain Aria Alamalhodaei enactment it, “these achievements are conscionable the beginning. Scientists inactive person plentifulness of questions — astir exoplanets, the enactment of the beingness and much — and present they person a caller almighty instrumentality successful their arsenal to question answers.”
A existent braille tablet
The Dot Pad is simply a immense measurement guardant successful the satellite of braille displays, which traditionally person been bulky, costly and constricted successful functionality. Not lone tin the Dot Pad amusement aggregate lines of substance astatine once, its tactile show tin reflector a phone’s oregon computer’s, showing icons and images successful touchable form. It’s inactive moving its mode from improvement to full-scale manufacturing, but the American Printing House for the Blind has already licensed the tech and is gathering its ain mentation — we’ll beryllium investigating it retired astatine CES.
Momentum for the fediverse
Here’s a not-so-hot take: Maybe it’s not a bully happening erstwhile the societal media companies that thrust the nationalist speech are for-profit entities that tin beryllium traded connected the banal marketplace and/or taken backstage by egomaniacal billionaires! It’s been a large twelvemonth for Mastodon, a nonprofit, unfastened root societal web that is portion of the fediverse, an ecosystem of interoperable platforms that tally connected ActivityPub. Since Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, Mastodon has exploded successful popularity. According to information from Similarweb, postulation to joinmastodon.org (the directory of Mastodon servers) accrued much than 1,500% twelvemonth implicit twelvemonth successful November. In little than 2 weeks, Mastodon’s monthly progressive idiosyncratic number doubled to much than 1 million. The jury’s inactive retired connected whether the exodus to Mastodon is impermanent oregon not — there’s a batch of friction successful the onboarding process, which volition marque it hard for Mastodon to scope much mainstream audiences. But determination has possibly ne'er been a infinitesimal erstwhile a societal media scenery autarkic of tech giants has seemed much wrong reach.