The Top 10 Tech Topics Covered in 2023

Here are the top 10 topics we covered for clients in 2023 (with the exception of the last one, which is all mine).

They and the linked stories represent an intersection of our interests and those of our clients, but they do reflect overall trends in technology.


Artificial intelligence has been on the rise for as long as I’ve reported on technology (it plays a starring role in my book on DARPA, The Department of Mad Scientists, for example). It’s also long been a fruitful area of commercial development, powering much of the enterprise software that my clients, such as Google and SAS, produce.

But AI really jumped in prominence with the beta launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in late 2022.

ChatGPT and similar systems rushed out by competitors can answer natural-language questions with responses generated from terabytes of text from the open internet, user prompts, and private data.

In 2023, it seemed like everyone in the tech world wanted a piece of the generative AI (GenAI) pie. There was also the scramble to answer the question of how quickly GenAI could put writers like me out of work. (The answer: not anytime soon. Yes, GenAI can spit out hundreds of words of text in seconds flat. But it still can’t tell a story. Until then, I’m in business.)

Despite the hype, AI has real utility, grows in capabilities daily, and touches every other area on this list.

Story for Vox and UC San Diego: 5 global problems AI could help solve


The climate crisis will only worsen until we stop emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at industrial scale. Getting to net zero represents both a massive problem and a huge opportunity, with $200 trillion in investment needed by 2050, according to the Climate Policy Initiative.

Story for the Economist and Pictet: Mapping out responsible and sustainable business models


The way we produce and use energy is at the heart of the climate crisis, driving electrification, automation, AI, and just about every other area on this list.

Story for the Economist and Pictet: Enabling technology development for the energy transition


How we produce goods, how we use them, and how we dispose of them are all undergoing profound shifts, driven by the climate crisis, supply chain bottlenecks, and labor shortages.

Reduce, reuse, and recycle, values my Depression-era grandparents taught me in the 1970s, have become corporate bywords.

Story for the Economist and Google: A circular approach to tackling e-waste

Software-defined products

In 2021, I bought a Tesla Model 3. The car came with over-the-air updates that regularly add new capabilities. Most recently: automatic 911 calling in the event of a crash, trip planning on my phone that I can push to the car, and a new media-playing app, among other features. I also have the option of buying software-activated extras such as an acceleration boost.

Do such software-defined products, enabled by the Internet of Things, represent the future of all manufactured products?

White paper for the Harvard Business Review and DXC Technology: Building teams for software-defined products


In 1963, DARPA program office director J.C.R. Licklider invoked science fiction in describing what he called the Intergalactic Computer Network (he also called it “the enterprise for which…I am at a loss for a name.”)

The groundbreaking capabilities Licklider funded, including the ability to access resources on dispersed, networked computers, led directly to what we know today as the cloud.

Cloud capabilities continue to evolve at a rapid clip.

Case study for the Economist and Google: Managing millions of daily retail transactions


The COVID-19 pandemic drove people to work remotely in unprecedented numbers, and cybercriminals followed them, hacking less-than-robust home networks and taking advantage of more company data accessible through online portals.

Case study for the Economist and Google: Delivering secure services at scale


No matter what the technology, people are always at its heart, solving problems, designing new ways to solve them, building machines and software, and using it.

The rise in remote work has clarified the value of the people behind the tech — as builders, as users — as never before.

Story for ServiceNow: Why building trust counts


Driven by an aging population and advancements in imaging, diagnostics, drug discovery, medical devices, remote treatment, and more, healthcare is a major focus of innovation today and in the foreseeable future.

Story for Vox and UC San Diego: 5 global problems AI could help solve


As an idea factory and funder, DARPA brought about many of the technologies we take for granted today, including graphical user interfaces, time-shared computing (i.e., the cloud), AI, and the internet itself — and continues to push the envelope in developing tomorrow’s technologies.

This year, I completed what I believe is the only how-to manual on pitching and getting projects funded by DARPA.

It outlines how DARPA’s proposal and funding processes work and the best ways to get your ideas in front of program managers, with examples (some more fanciful than others—time machine, anyone?).

Ebook: Pitching DARPA: How to get your big idea in front of America’s mad scientist agency


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