I read about the gardner hype cycle a long time ago, but it is only in the last few years that I feel that I fully “got” it. And now, I see it everywhere. There’s always a new technology promising to revolutionize everything, change the world, only to fall short of the (often exaggerated) expectations.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize that the most visible failures often thrive within a VC/media echo chamber, detached from the realities on the ground. Perhaps the media favors flamboyant founders, amplifying their stories to captivate audiences. This influx of attention then legitimizes their ventures, attracting more funding, amplifying the hype even further.
I compiled a quick list of various “techs” that I’ve witnessed come and go in recent years. They were all hyped to the moon (5G enabling heart surgery in the wilderness!), and widely popular in the medias.
Please note that my intention is not to evaluate the merits of these technologies, as they are all remarkable in their own right. However, it is important to acknowledge that the way they were portrayed in the media often lacked any critical analysis.
- 3D printing
- 3D TV/smartphones/Game consoles
- Blockchain / NFT / Smart contracts
- Metaverse (this one had a very unhealthy symbiosis with NFT/cryptocurrencies and managed to create the illusion of trillion-dollar markets out of crude tech demos)
- On-demand Video streaming (Netflix and the revolution of media production models)
- Pre-OpenAI chatbots
- Robotics (Boston Dynamics)
- Segways (yes, I remember the hype)
- VR/AR/Smart glasses
And now, ChatGPT! This one truly fascinates me because it’s the first time where I feel that there is something tangible pretty early on (it feels a lot more “useable” than my Oculus DK2 for instance).
It’s too early to know if the hype will match reality (I just read an article claiming ChatGPT will take over the world next month), but my gut tells me it will bring change. Exciting times lie ahead!