From Crypto to Code: Artificial Intelligence Dominates Discussions at Davos
In a sudden shift, artificial intelligence (AI) has pushed cryptocurrency firms aside at the 2024 World Economic Forum and has been seen dominating the main strip in Davos, as reported by the CNBC.
For the last few years, crypocurrency firms have been dominating the main strip in Davos, hence promoting their waves; however, in 2024, it has changed, Arjun Kharpal and MacKenzie Sigalos said in a CNBC report.
Some of the world's biggest companies are pushing their AI products and services, with one declaring, "The future is AI."
This shift highlighted the rapid surge in AI investments and interest last year, which were sparked by the explosion of popularity of ChatGPT, the AI chatbot developed by OpenAI that was launched at the end of 2022, according to CNBC.
Moreover, global technology companies are struggling and pushing to take a lead in AI and are likely hoping their big statements on the Davos Promenade will serve to prove their expertise in the field.
The companies, from US semiconductor firm Intel to Salesforce, had AI slogans on the properties they took over.
Moreover, there was an "AI House", an event space that was hosted by companies including Swiss telecommunications firm Swisscom, as reported by CNBC.
Reportedly, AI dominated the Promenade far more than crypto firms and has reversed a trend from the past few years.
For instance, at the World Economic Forum in 2022, firms were touting "Bitcoin Pizza Day" and so-called non-fungible tokens, even after the price of cryptocurrencies had collapsed.
Later, in 2023, as the crypto winter set in, firms pulled back on splashing the cash at Davos; however, there was still a heavy presence from the industry, including a mysterious orange bitcoin car.
The AI dominance made sense, CNBC reported.
Additionally, PitchBook's Emerging Tech Indicator, which tracks angel, seed, and early stage investments at the world's 15 most successful venture firms, found that AI and machine learning startups gained far more investment in the third quarter.
The buzzy tech pulled in around USD 600 million over the three months, compared to just over USD 100 million for Web3 and decentralised finance companies, as reported by CNBC.
Moreover, Nvidia, which was the poster child for AI in the public markets, saw a 239 per cent rally in its stock in 2023. The buzz for AI showed little signs of fading.
However, the crypto industry seemed to be OK with the shift at Davos.
Dante Disparte, the chief strategy officer for Circle, the issuer of the popular US dollar-pegged stablecoin USDC, has been a Davos regular. Disparte said that for the last eight years, the blockchain and crypto industry have had to "tell the story of the technology as opposed to the story of results."
"Today, there are very few crypto houses along the Promenade. They're all AI houses, which is good," Disparte said, adding, "That suggests that this is becoming a background technology."
According to Disparte, who has worked extensively with lawmakers on Capitol Hill to pass legislation on stablecoins, the companies and players left standing will converge on traditional banking, finance and payments, as reported by CNBC.
"It's not dissimilar to the way the internet had to go through its dotcom bubble phase to hand over the development of the Internet to more durable, trusting and safe hands," he said.
"There's a new technology kid on the block, which means that I get to become a vintage player. And I don't have to explain the technology so much so that's encouraging," he added.
Moreover, its not like there are no crypto firms present. The circle had a big presence on the promenade, as reported by CNBC.
A Swiss non-profit industry body called the Global Blockchain Business Council also had an event space. Moreover, blockchain firm CasperLabs, which has been attending for the past few years, also had a large space.
But overall, it was certainly more muted, despite the crypto industry and investors appearing to have had a better year in 2023 than in 2022.
Reportedly, Bitcoin rallied more than 150 per cent in 2023.
Furthermore, there is a narrative running in the industry that crypto companies no longer have to prove themselves, Kharpal and Sigalos said in a CNBC report, adding that some of them looks at the approval of a bitcoin ETF by the US Securities and Exchange Commission last week as a moment that has locked in crypto's place as a legitimate asset class.