Artificial intelligence went mainstream in 2023. The watershed moment arrived at the end of the previous year, with the November 30 release of ChatGPT. Just two months later, the OpenAI system was reaching an estimated 100 million active users. According to analysts at investment bank UBS, the headline-grabbing chatbot had become the fastest-growing consumer app of all time.

Over the remaining course of 2023, the hype train went into overdrive. Suddenly, AI seemed to be everywhere. It was transforming our lives. It was taking our jobs. It was even threatening to cause an apocalypse

In reality, however, the breakthroughs have largely emerged within a single portion of artificial intelligence: generative AI. The excitement sparked by ChatGPT’s text, GitHub Copilot’s code, and Stable Diffusion’s images are yet to spread across the field.

“While the use of GenAI might spur the adoption of other AI tools, we see few meaningful increases in organisations’ adoption of these technologies,” McKinsey concluded in its report on the state of AI in 2023.

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“The percent of organizations adopting any AI tools has held steady since 2022, and adoption remains concentrated within a small number of business functions.”

Generative AI also still has more to prove. In recent research from Infosys, the Indian IT giant found only 6% of European companies are producing business value with their GenAI use cases. In Gartner’s famous hype cycle for emerging technologies, the subsector has reached the “peak of inflated expectations.” 

The next stage of the cycle for GenAI is the “trough of disillusionment.” In that stage, interest wanes as experiments and implements fail to deliver, while producers of the tech shake out or fail. 

Graph showing Gartner's hype cycle for AI