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28 Dec 2023

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AI is the Top 2023 Issue, While Sustainability Remains Critical

ChatGPT and the Generative AI (GAI) category in which it lies dominated much of the media coverage and industry thoughts in 2023. The assumption that ChatGPT and competitors to it will continue to improve steadily leads to concerns about GAI's potential to kill jobs, destabilize organizations, and even be the avant garde in an AI singularity that may some day threaten humankind.

GAI was also prominent among the issues addressed by panelists and attendees at IDCA webinars, in comments from IDCA News readers, and in conversations between IDCA's global team and customers.

AI Listed as Top “Game Changer”
One IDCA survey of IT professionals, asking which of a few key technologies would be the “game changer” over the next few years, found 65% stating it would be AI in all its forms, 22% believing it would be quantum computing, and 3% to 4% each favoring the IoT, cybersecurity, robotics, and 5G. This data, in addition to highlighting AI, can also tell us that the lesser-mentioned technologies have already reached some level of maturity and are now accepted as table stakes.

Ethical dilemmas with AI were the top concern of 63% of the survey audience, with 21% concerned mostly with it creating a dependence on technology, 11% concerned mostly about job loss, and 5% stating “other” concerns.

A separate survey conducted during an IDCA webinar on the impact of AI found 40% of the audience stating the existing legal codes are “completely insufficient” to the challenges of AI today, with another 28% deeming them “somewhat insufficient.” A level of moderate to high concern about data rights and privacy was cited by 88% of this audience.

Cybersecurity Another Top Issue
Cybersecurity did not come up in the above-noted survey, but seems to always be hanging out as an elephant in any room. In fact, an IDCA Research survey of data center operators found cybersecurity mentioned as the #1 issue by 26% of the audience. A handful of issues followed, favored by 10% to 15% of the audience: cooling, education & training, data growth, cloud vs. colo decisions, and data sovereignty.

And There's Always Sustainability...
Data center operators are also concerned about sustainability. There was virtual unanimity among audience members during an IDCA webinar on Sustainability that sustainability was “important” to some degree. Yet only 27% of webinar participants said their companies had a formal commitment to CO2 and related emissions abatement.

A practical mindset seemed to be present among most IDCA Research survey participants in 2023, with 65% saying a “complete migration to the cloud” is not essential in creating sustainable Digital Economies. Financial constraints were mentioned by 48% of participants as the “biggest challenge” in building sustainable infrastructure, with 41% noting a lack of stakeholder commitment as the biggest challenge and only 7% citing regulatory hurdles.

A special webinar and survey about government organizations working to build new digital infrastructure found 60% listing bureaucratic delay as their biggest challenge, with 16% stating technical limitations, 14% pointing the finger at legislative hurdles, and 10% noting budgetary constraints.

More Conversations in 2024
IDCA continues its webinar series in 2024, addressing data growth in its first webinar of the year on Wednesday, January 17. The Zettabyte Era: How to Plan for Continued Data Growth kicks off the year's webinars, a series that IDCA is now calling Conversations. Registration is already open.

Topics in the upcoming year will embrace AI in its many forms, as well as traditional data center operational management, sustainability, networking technologies and issues from end-to-end, all with a Big-Picture view of creating Digital Economies for all the nations of the world. IDCA Conversations will be augmented by special online events that focus on Education and Training, and Digital Infrastructure Audits.

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