AI , Blockchain

The trough of disillusionment – Blockchain and AI

Explore Gartner's Hype Cycle and its parallels with AI and Blockchain. From initial excitement to disillusionment and eventual productivity, discover the journey of these technologies.

The Gartner Hype Cycle is a visual representation of the phases that emerging technologies “typically” undergo. In very rough strokes, it all begins with a “Technology Trigger” that sparks initial interest, leading to exaggerated expectations during the “Peak of Inflated Expectations.” As reality sets in and expectations are unmet, the technology enters the “Trough of Disillusionment.” With continued development and understanding, it progresses along the “Slope of Enlightenment” towards mainstream adoption, ultimately reaching the “Plateau of Productivity” where practical benefits are realized. This cycle helps businesses anticipate the maturity and impact of emerging technologies.

Although there is certainly some controversy when it comes to label Gartner’s Hype Cycle as the typical flow, it does give us a credible roadmap for at least some of the emerging technologies (and more).

Based on the amazing gift of hindsight, both AI and Blockchain seem to be following it.

Breaking it down

In much simpler terms, the Gartner’s cycle exposes a set of turning points for new technology trends. Think about it as if you’re presented with a miracle regime based on a new trend, such as Intermittent Fasting. This is your “Technology Trigger” stage.

These routines often claim to solve a plethora of issues like weight, sleep, mood, skin, focus, and the list goes on. One gets super excited, and heavily invests in this. This is the “Peak of Inflated Expectations” stage.

What usually happens is that people approach the trend with enormous enthusiasm and excitement, only to learn that there is no real yellow brick road towards body and mind wellness. Just like this, there is rarely any world changing “thing” that lives up to the hype “just like that”. The yellow brick road is actually under construction, there is a shortage of bricks, it’s raining, the workers speak different languages, and they are actually learning on the job. There are no shortcuts in life. This is the “Trough of Disillusionment” stage.

After a generalized lost of faith in the regime, the hype dies out, blog posts are written to discredit it, and it slowly fades away. Those who did the work and kept investing in it will showcase in 10 years how it actually changed their lives for the better. They will tell us their success stories, what worked, what didn’t, end eventually a roadmap (to that already built brick road) of do’s and dont’s that will finally be a recipe for proven success. This is of course the “Plateau of Productivity”.

The case for Blockchain

Blockchain technology, introduced with the creation of Bitcoin in 2009, revolutionized the financial landscape and beyond. The newly created industry grew to the point of being really self sustained as possibilities kept fueling more and more investment. Success stories and billionaire stories kept drawing in more investors and players.

Eventually, a combination of irresponsible decisions, lack of regulations and “over-inflated expectations meets real world” dictated the downfall of Blockchain at least as we knew it.

The debate is on as to when the exact “Trough of Disillusionment” moment actually took place. The Gartner report flags this as early as 2019 which was still much too early as Blockchain still rode the gaming and NFT wave with much impact in the world until 2023.

This day, many crypto ventures have lost a tremendous amount of their value, and the arrest of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, drove the stake through its heart. Regardless of the when, it’s fair to say it has happened.

Blockchain beyond the hype

Truth is, Blockchain is an amazing technology with an immense set of real-life applications that can (and I believe they will) progressively change the world as it is.

There are amazing ventures being done with Blockchain in all of its forms. NFTs, Crypto currencies, Decentralization and even DAOs are incredibly valuable as concepts that may have just been a victim of it’s own popularity. With mass adoption come mass mistakes, and these usually speak louder than the successes. Sadly fear is a too strong of a feeling.

The Plateau of Productivity will be achieved in the coming years by the hand of all the initiatives that were not maintained by hype and FOMO (fear of missing out), but instead were launched by those with the insight and perseverance to see those through the tunnel.

The case for AI

Much like Blockchain AI swept the world off its feet with the very known ChatGPT. AI as a concept spans all the way back to Alan Turing’s test but mass adoption only took place some 70 years after.

Although the industry is still in its infancy, ChatGPT showed an unprecedented adoption rate. If history tells us something is that eventually things will start to go wrong. And they already did.

Recently we’ve painstakingly watched as Sam Altman was fired as CEO from Open AI, which then turned to some sort of mutiny, resulting in his return, just a few days after.

Does this mean that AI has started to wear its first signs of decline? Hardly. Does this mean it eventually will? Hard to say.

Final thoughts

None can predict the future, specially when large scale world changing capabilities are uncovered and presented to the world as their new lord and savior. Both Fear of Missing Out and Fear of not cashing out are constantly competing with each other and they rarely have their roots in reasoning and sense. After all, the drivers of innovation, investment and decision making are (for now) only human.

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