2024 Predictions in storage, technology, and the world, part 1: the AI hype is real!

Jeremy Werner | December 2023

The end of the calendar year and the holiday seasons in many cultures and countries around the world are a time to reflect on the past and an opportunity to think deeply about what the upcoming year and the future in general will bring. Over the past 100 years, driven by the introduction of increasingly connecting technologies enabling richer communications and lower-latency information transfer, the world has gotten closer than ever.

This increased connectivity has led to fantastic benefits for many people around the world, lifting people out of poverty, increasing information availability, revolutionizing business and education, connecting people with like-minded citizens of Earth no matter where they may be, and shining spotlights on injustices around the world that we can tackle as a human species, among myriad other benefits. But there have been downsides that are often lamented as we age and look back fondly on less connected times.

Our privacy has eroded as we are now traceable and trackable — from our phone locations to our online search history. Our ability to sustain concentration for tasks that require significant time and effort has diminished due to the nature of our always on and always reachable connectivity. Also, some of the worst human traits are brought forth through the power of social media and often misleading information that is difficult or impossible to discern as fact or fiction, often leading to hate, jealousy, greed, gluttony and self-loathing.

These technologies have remade the world and the world’s economy through the introduction of new capabilities including mass production in a global interconnected supply chain, which is driving productivity gains. Now that the information revolution has transformed the world, we sit on the cusp of another great revolution as we enter the Age of Intelligence,1 undoubtedly greater than any we’ve seen in the history of humankind – built on the shoulders of the giant leaps that humans, as the world’s ultimate social and ingenious beings, have taken in the past.

Now, on to my first prediction.

Prediction 1: The AI hype is REAL and will change the world forever

Like all technologies as they first take off, questions abound about whether they are real or hype. Many technologies are hyped, only to flounder for years before becoming mainstream; others catch the momentum and take off, never looking in the rearview mirror; and some fade into the annals of history, a distant memory in nostalgia, the ever-common one-hit wonder.

Gartner writes about this in its famous Hype Cycle – and I think it’s a good way to look at where new technologies stand. One of the most common questions I get is, “Is the AI boom hype?” and my answer is, “Unequivocally not hype!” Now, it's possible that the fine people (or algorithmic trading supercomputers these days) on Wall Street will fade the trade of AI companies as growth inevitably tames. But the impact that AI will have on our lives, on the future of the data center and personal devices, on the future of memory and storage technology, and on the growth rate of IT spending will be tremendous — and we are just at the very beginning of what is possible!


The introduction of ChatGPT and the other more than 100-billion-parameter large language models (LLMs) kicked off the generative AI revolution, although neural networks, deep learning and artificial intelligence (AI) have been in use for decades in fields such as image recognition and advertising recommendation engines. But something about the latest LLM AI capabilities makes them seem different than what came before – more capable, more intelligent, more thoughtful, more human? And these capabilities are advancing at an accelerating pace – especially as all the world’s largest companies race to monetize and productize the LLM-based applications that will change the world forever.

Let me provide a few examples of new near-term, medium-term, and long-term capabilities and applications that will reshape the world as we know it. In the process, they will reshape the need for faster, larger, more secure, and more capable memory, storage, networking, and compute devices, with a special focus on data creation, storage, and analytics from these new applications. Whether these technologies go mainstream today, tomorrow or in 20 years, the race to deploy them starts NOW and Micron is at the heart of all the innovation and ramping capabilities.

The basics: near-term capabilities guaranteed to explode in the next two to three years

Most of these technologies are applications that will be run in the data center and accessed remotely through a phone or PC by the consumer, or run in the backbone of business applications to speed time to market for new product development, gain insights on how companies are performing to drive improvements, uncover areas of saving and productivity gain, and bring these companies closer to their customers by enhancing their understanding of their customers desires and connecting them with the products that will interest them.

  • General generative AI – Want to create a new logo for your company, draw a funny picture for a friend, or express your ideas in art? Maybe write a blog or piece of marketing collateral, find or create a legal agreement template, brainstorm ideas for team building events, review the flow of your presentation and make suggestions to wow the audience – or even touch up your slides and presentation for you?
    It’s all possible and it’s real, here and now, and the rollout into Office365 and Google Docs is happening, gated primarily by integrating these capabilities into applications, users learning how to use the new capabilities (that is, adoption), and the compute power on the backend supporting these new capabilities. (Note that rolling out that compute power will benefit memory and storage demand.)
  • Video chat monitoring – Need real-time language translation for cross-border meetings with team members fluent in different languages? Tired of taking meeting minutes and want an automated summary — including key points, attendees, and action items — to be saved to the location of your choice and sent out after your meeting? These are just a couple examples of the capabilities in trial or being developed already.
  • Code generation – The average compensation of a software engineer in the U.S. is about $155,000.2 Code generation empowers entrepreneurs and creators by giving them the ability to program without needing to know how to code. It can also transform an experienced coder or software engineer into a super engineer, enhancing their productivity by an average of 55%, according to one study.3

At Micron we’ve been deploying early prototypes of AI coding tools for our software engineers from IT and product development to test and validation. And even early tools — not bespoke trained tools on our data specifically — are showing huge promise to drive software developer productivity. One simple example that most software programmers will appreciate was that the AI software automatically generated and inserted comments for the code we were writing that was highly accurate. This simple task saved our engineers up to 20% of their time while enhancing the consistency, quality, and readability of our code for others assigned to or joining projects.

Entrepreneurship and business partners – Have a new idea but don’t know where to get started? Your favorite generative AI assistant has your back. Tell ChatGPT or other generative AI tools you want to start a business together and it’s your new business partner! Explain your idea and ask for a business plan, a roadmap and a step-by-step guide on how to realize your dream. You’ll be amazed at what an enthusiastic and capable business partner you’ve found. It’s not perfect but is any co-worker?

Medium-term technologies that will disrupt trillion-dollar industries in the next three to seven years

Most of these technologies require some complex problems to be solved, including government regulations for safety reasons or new physical capabilities to be developed. These dependencies will inevitably delay the introduction of what is possible as they are added into the existing physical world built for humans and their imperfections.

  • Autonomous driving – Remember the hype this new technology got around 2021? Uber and Lyft stock soared on the belief that their platforms would provide the robo-taxi fleet for the rapid transition into autonomous vehicles. But indeed Level 5 (fully autonomous) cars have fallen somewhat into the trough of disillusionment. The reasons for the delay are many – underestimation of the complexity and computing power required to make split second decisions, the variance of the driving, road and weather conditions, the complexity of the moral and ethical decision-making, and societal and regulatory questions such as who is liable in the event of an accident or how you prioritize saving the lives of passengers or pedestrians when no perfect decision exists. Accidents happen, right? But we will figure these issues out, and eventually most vehicles on the road will be capable of full autonomy. And this will have an enormous impact on the amount of memory and storage in a car as the average L5 vehicle in 2030 will use approximately 200 times the amount of NAND used by a typical L2+/L3 vehicle today. Multiply that by approximately 122 million4 vehicles in 2030 and you see an increase in demand for NAND in automotive applications reliant on AI of a whopping 500 exabytes! That’s over half the amount of NAND expected to be produced in 2024.
  • Healthcare – Artificial intelligence is transforming healthcare in many ways, including radiology scans and cancer detection. AI algorithms can analyze images from MRI scans to predict the presence of an IDH1 gene mutation in brain tumors or find prostate cancer when it’s present and dismiss anything that may be mistaken for cancer.4 Researchers are using machine learning to build tools in the realm of cancer detection and diagnosing, potentially catching tumors or lesions that doctors could miss.5 AI is also being used to help detect lung cancer tumors in computed tomography scans, with the AI deep learning tool outperforming radiologists in detecting lung cancer.6 And AI will bring the best practices and procedures to patients around the world, especially in locations lacking the quantity and quality of top doctors, which is likely to massively improve outcomes.
  • Personal AI assistant – Movies and books have been written — from Awaken Online7 to Her8 — romanticizing the idea of a personal AI assistant always with you, capable of truly understanding your desires, preferences, and needs. Imagine being able to give vague instructions like find me something to eat, plan my vacation for me, create my to-do list, or help me choose an outfit today. These are all within the realm of possibility but require privacy and performance that is likely best delivered locally instead of from the cloud. The training and retraining of these models may happen on more powerful servers, but the inferencing/running of the model and your private data is likely to be resident on your phone or PC of the future. This means massive increases in local storage (NAND/SSD) and memory (DRAM) in future personal devices.
  • Video training – How about a virtual avatar of your boss, trained on their capabilities and thought processes, to review your work and provide feedback, or give advice that is close to what they would actually deliver, or a video of your favorite leader or scientist or celebrity who could come to a school and interact with the students in an authentic and thoughtful manner? Training on video and the compute power necessary to scale hyperrealistic advanced digital AI avatars are costly endeavors compared to still image or text generation, but they’re technologically viable once costs come down and investment scales into the next wave of generative models.
  • Policing and law enforcement – Artificial intelligence has the potential to transform the field of policing and law enforcement, especially in video surveillance. AI can help detect and prevent crimes, identify and track suspects, and provide evidence and insights for investigations. However, the use of AI also raises ethical and social issues, such as the balance between government monitoring and individual privacy rights, the risk of government tyranny and abuse of power, and the impact of AI on human dignity and civil liberties. Different countries have different approaches and regulations on how to use AI for video surveillance, reflecting their cultural and political values. For example, the U.S. prioritizes individual privacy and limits the use of facial recognition and other biometric technologies by law enforcement agencies. On the other hand, Britain and China allow more state surveillance and use AI to monitor public spaces, traffic, and social media for crime prevention and social control. These contrasting examples show that society must weigh the benefits and risks of AI in video surveillance and decide how to regulate and oversee its use in a democratic and transparent manner. So, while the technology exists for much of this use today, the sticky ethical questions and subsequent regulations are likely to take longer before they fully disrupt this industry.

Longer-term technologies that will create multitrillion-dollar industries in the next 10-plus years

  • Home-assistant robotics – The aging population in the United States is facing a number of challenges when it comes to eldercare. The need for caregivers will increase significantly as the population ages. However, the supply of eldercare is not keeping up with the demand. The shortage of workers in the eldercare industry is a nationwide dilemma, with millions of older adults unable to access the affordable care and services that they so desperately need. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of home health and personal care aides is projected to grow 22% from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for all occupations. About 684,600 openings for home health and personal care aides are projected each year, on average, over the decade.9 Meanwhile, according to the CDC, 66% of U.S. households (86.9 million homes) own a pet, with dogs being the most popular pet in the U.S. (65.1 million U.S. households own a dog), followed by cats (46.5 million households).10 In 2022, Americans spent $5.8 billion on pet care services, including pet sitting, dog walking, grooming, and boarding.11
    And over one million home burglaries occur annually in the U.S.; that’s one every 25.7 seconds!12 Home-assistant robots with AI embedded into their capabilities could help seniors or disabled people maintain their independence, protect our homes when we are out, or take care of our pets when we travel, as well as assisting in myriad other helpful ways such as cooking or cleaning. Eventually Isaac Asimov’s vision of intelligent and helpful robots is likely to become a reality.
  • Battle bots and revolutionized warfare – Artificial intelligence is likely to transform modern warfare in unprecedented ways, creating new opportunities and challenges for humanity. AI could be a means to peace, discouraging warfare by enhancing deterrence, reducing casualties, and enabling humanitarian interventions. However, AI could also be a dangerous tool in the hands of an evil dictator, increasing the scale, speed, and unpredictability of violence, lowering the threshold for conflict, and undermining human rights and accountability. AI could enable the development and deployment of new weapons and systems — such as drones, microscopic hordes, and robots — that could autonomously operate on the battlefield, with or without human supervision. These technologies could have significant implications for the ethics and laws of war, as well as the security and stability of the world order. Therefore, it is imperative that governments around the world navigate the ethical implications of AI in warfare, cooperate to establish norms and regulations that ensure the responsible and peaceful use of AI, and (hopefully) drive our planet to peace and shared prosperity.
  • The new hire – Why work when you could get your AI robot to go to work for you? At some point in the future, we have the opportunity for more leisure time and socialization as the mundane tasks in life can be managed by superintelligent robots – as individuals or hive beings. How will society choose to share this wealth among its citizens? Will we allow only a few who invent the technology to benefit or will all humankind have their quality of life lifted? What will we do with all the time we find on our hands, and what does it mean for the values that many of us hold in high esteem like working hard and learning about new things if we won’t have as broad an opportunity to apply them? Lots of questions with many ethical and societal challenges that must be worked out and reimagined from how the world operates today. We may be worried about AI taking our jobs, but maybe we can move to a three- or four-day workweek and spend more time enjoying the fruits of our labor through the help of our trusty AI assistants!

In my next blog, we’ll transition from AI — which is at the start of a meteoric rise — to a technology that is about to change direction (NAND) and another that is headed into the sunset.

Corporate Vice President & General Manager, Storage Business Unit

Jeremy Werner

Jeremy is an accomplished storage technology leader with over 20 years of experience. At Micron he has a wide range of responsibilities, including product planning, marketing and customer support for Server, Storage, Hyperscale, and Client markets globally. Previously he was GM of the SSD business at KIOXIA America and spent a decade in sales and marketing roles at startup companies MetaRAM, Tidal Systems, and SandForce. Jeremy earned a B.S.E.E. from Cornell University and holds over 25 patents or patents pending.