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TickTockTech: AI has reached escape velocity — and there’s no going back.

February 21, 2024
By Seth Bloom

As communications professionals, we are universally obsessed with global news consumption and the big trends driving it. Sure, we often follow them at the behest of our clients — to identify opportunities to react intelligently to breaking stories or white space where they can enter a new or different conversation and even pinpoint reporters and outlets with the most influence on a topic that matters to them.

But we are also inherently curious. We want to know what reporters are covering and why because we want to know how we can be a part of the most important conversations of the day. And to that, it seems that every day there is a new topic driving the agenda — and captivating audiences around the world across myriad platforms and outlets. This is abundantly true when it comes to the dynamic world of technology.

But what of these trends and topics actually has staying power? In partnership with TRUE Global Intelligence (FleishmanHillard’s global research, analytics and measurement practice), our tech team decided to take a quick historic look at big trends in tech innovation and the new consumption around them. 

This stunning image shows search traffic around the term “AI,” which continues to go up, up, up 14 months after the launch of ChatGPT (which gave consumers their first taste of the power of artificial intelligence they could harness directly). 

We see the stratospheric rise of AI best when it is compared to two other terms that felt like they were on everyone’s tongue in the tech world for a hot minute: NFTs and the Metaverse. But looking at the numbers, those trends had a brief burst of attention before being quickly pulled down by gravity.

And while it’s tempting to throw shade at the uncomfortable oddness of NFTs or the lofty promises of anything called a “metaverse”, we think the actual story is simply the fact that as soon as people could start ordering around AI chatbots, they saw the future unfold one answer at a time. AI felt real immediately….and consumers and businesses alike were instantly smitten by the promise of what’s on the horizon. Their interest, as evidenced by this image, rocketed upwards quickly and consistently. And the interest continues to grow.

Beyond the lessons this graphic holds around the rise of AI, it serves as a reminder to us that a sure-fire way to get people talking about a new product or service is to get it in the hands of actual people and let them do things with it that are actually cool.

We are living in a period of unprecedented and incredibly fast change. The adoption of new technologies has never been more dramatic. Of course, the global pandemic did its part to speed digital transformation across geographic, political, economic and social divides. It altered industries from retail to logistics to manufacturing and even entertainment. As a result, technology innovation had an amazing moment that led to this incredible AI story arc.

We can only wonder what will come next…

(Rita Herbstman of our TRUE Global Intelligence practice contributed to this article, as well as designers Sara Cooper and Josh Kirk.)