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Business News/ Technology / News/  From metaverse to 5G: Tech that shaped 2022
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From metaverse to 5G: Tech that shaped 2022

Rising from lows of crypto crash, the industry made innovations that changed the way we think

Metaverse projects globally saw investments of $120 billion in the first five months of 2022, more than double the $57 billion invested in 2021. (Photo: iStock)Premium
Metaverse projects globally saw investments of $120 billion in the first five months of 2022, more than double the $57 billion invested in 2021. (Photo: iStock)

NEW DELHI : This year was a mixed bag for the tech industry. The crypto crash was both a big blow and wake-up call for investors and regulators. The first images captured by the James Webb space telescope gave us a glimpse of cosmic events such as the birth and death of stars. Claims of Google LaMDA becoming sentient and the buzz around the public release of the artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbot called ChatGPT also created quite a stir. The metaverse, web3, and chip manufacturing also made the news. Here’s our pick of five such technologies that shaped 2022.

5G on a roll

Telcos are hoping that 5G will transform enterprises the way 4G helped consumers. 5G’s biggest advantage is reducing latency, or the time that data takes to reach users, from 20 milliseconds in 4G to somewhere around 1 millisecond. For instance, watching Fifa World Cup 2022 would have been a delight for many with 5G networks. The first rollouts took place in 2019 in South Korea and the US, but since then 5G has been rolled out in over 70 countries. In India, 5G services were launched by Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio in October. According to a GSMA Intelligence report, published in October, 5G can contribute $455 billion to the Indian economy between 2023 and 2040. India is expected to have 31 million 5G subscribers by the year-end, as per Ericsson’s Mobility report, published in November. Phonemakers have already shipped 67 million 5G smartphones, too, and this figure is expected to grow to 80 million by this year-end, according to analysts at IDC.

Wafer fabs for India, too

India set the ball rolling in earnest to set up semiconductor plants with its 76,000 crore PLI (production-linked incentive) scheme in December 2021. The idea is to make the country self-reliant in semiconductors while saving money on imports and help compete with countries such as China. If the International Semiconductor Consortium (ISMC) gets the Indian government’s sanction to set up a wafer fab in India, chipmaker Intel, too, will be a part of the project since it announced the acquisition of Tower Semiconductor in February. ISMC is a joint venture between Abu Dhabi-based Next Orbit Ventures and Israel’s Tower Semiconductor. Singapore firm IGSS Ventures said it would invest $3.2 billion in Tamil Nadu to set up a high-tech semiconductor park in the state. Foxconn and Vedanta plan to set up a semiconductor fab unit, a display fab unit, and a semiconductor assembling and testing unit over 1,000 acres in Gujarat’s capital Ahmedabad. The three proposals for wafer fabs worth $13.6 billion have sought $5.6 billion in government support.

Bracing for govt-backed digital money

Multiple governments worldwide are counting on Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) even as they made no bones about their mistrust of cryptocurrencies. India’s apex bank has already rolled out a beta of its digital currency though a full-fledged rollout of the country’s digital currency is expected in early 2023. Though CBDCs can be traded like cryptos, they are not based on public blockchains. They are likely to be on a private blockchain network controlled by central banks or governments, which will give banks a clearer picture of the money flow. China and Nigeria are some countries that have launched their CBDCs. In China, transactions made with the digital yuan (Chinese CBDC) crossed 100 billion yuan (around $14 billion) as of August-end, according to the People’s Bank of China. The US is also planning to launch a CBDC, which would be interoperable with CBDCs issued by central banks in other countries. Experts believe that CBDCs can help the Indian government in achieving financial inclusion as it doesn’t require users to own bank accounts. Similarly, it can speed up cross-border payments by reducing the number of intermediaries to process transactions as is the case with the banking system.

AI is becoming smarter

Microsoft-backed and Elon Musk-founded AI research firm OpenAI created a stir in November by unveiling a human-like conversational AI chatbot called ChatGPT, which got more than a million users in just the first week of its launch. People have since used ChatGPT to write rebuttals to health insurance claims, turn the AI against Musk himself, write poems, articles, books and even code. Other AI tools like Dall-E, Point-E MidJourney, and LensaAI, too, can draw, paint, and even convert people’s selfies into (sometimes unrealistic) avatars. But these tools can also generate fake news, fake images, fake videos, and malicious code. Besides, Prof. Tim Goldstein from the University of Maryland estimates that ChatGPT costs about $3 million per day to run. AI tools will, thus, have to be affordable, responsible, explainable and environment-friendly too.

Immersion in metaverses

Mark Zuckerberg’s ambitious and costly plan to build a metaverse platform has inspired a series of metaverse-related initiatives by individuals, celebrities, companies, banks, and even governments. In February, a couple from Tamil Nadu threw a metaverse reception with a Hogwarts theme for friends and family. Enterprises, too, have shown a lot of interest, be it a textile firm such as Mafatlal Industries, which is opening a metaverse gallery, or the Bengaluru international airport, which is making some of its terminals available in the metaverse. IT firm TechMahindra also launched a platform called TechMVerse in February to build metaverse experiences for its enterprise customers. According to a June report by Mckinsey & Company, the metaverse may generate up to $5 trillion in economic value by 2030 for both consumer and enterprise markets. The report also showed that $120 billion was invested in metaverse projects globally in the first five months of 2022, more than double the $57 billion invested in 2021.

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Abhijit Ahaskar
Abhijit writes on tech policy, gaming, security, AI, robotics, electronics and startups. He has been in the media industry for over 12 years.
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Updated: 26 Dec 2022, 06:36 AM IST
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