2023 in five top facts

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In a sector that’s given over to hyperbole, this year has been a particular doozy for technology. Generative AI alone has opened up an endless seem of think pieces, conferences and questionable products, while the specter of ransomware stalked businesses everywhere.

To break past some of this rhetoric, these are five of the most important statistics from the year that you may have missed and what they mean for businesses today.

100 million users

OpenAI’s ChatGPT racked up 100 million users just two months after its launch, in a meteoric rise that led UBS analysts to state “In twenty years following the Internet space, we cannot recall a faster ramp in a consumer internet app”, per Reuters.

Although released in 2022, it was in 2023 that ChatGPT migrated from the realms of internet memes and tech enthusiasts to the corporate setting and even the dinner table. Having practically become a byword for generative AI at this stage, the chatbot helped drive keen interest in the space of AI large language models (LLMs) and has now been joined by competing models in the form of Google’s Bard and Amazon Q.

To put the rise of ChatGPT another way, the app had reached a million users just five days post-launch.

€1.59 billion

Over the course of 2023, Meta accrued an eye-watering total of €1.59 billion ($1.74 billion) in General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) fines. While historically the company has been no stranger to large fines, having been repeatedly sanctioned by European regulators for its social media and advertising practices, this is a new high for the firm.


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The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) fined Meta €390 million ($427 million) for GDPR violations on 4 January 2023 and later imposed a whopping €1.2 billion ($1.3 billion) of the total on Meta for just one offense in May 2023, stating that Meta’s data transfers between the EU and US did not adequately address risks to rights of EU citizens.

Whether Big Tech fines make a difference is a matter of debate. Meta’s repeated infractions would suggest that the firm has budgeted for harsh regulatory responses and that the sheer scale of the company’s profits prevents fines of this kind from making a lasting impact on the company’s operations.

Whatever their efficacies, there’s no doubt the company set a new bar for tech sector fines. If it can get a week into 2024 without being forced to shell out several hundred million euros, it will be off to a good start.

200 petaflops

That’s the computing power of the UK’s new fastest supercomputer Isambard-AI, which is set to go live in Spring 2024 and will be based at the University of Bristol. It’s approximately ten times faster than the UK’s previous record-holder, ARCHER2

As we enter the age of exascale computing, supercomputers will help us to achieve the full potential of all sectors. Whether sequencing genomes, producing incredibly detailed climate models, or training the most advanced generation of AI models yet, high-performance computing (HPC) has an outsized role for the future of the world.

28 countries

That’s the number that signed the Bletchley Declaration, an agreement to continue international cooperation on AI development. Specifically, the Bletchley Declaration seeks to publicly recognize the risks of AI and calls for transparent and cross-border collaboration on addressing potential generative AI cyber security threats, as well as the potential for disinformation.

While there is an argument to be made the UK’s AI Safety Summit emphasized global divides, the Bletchley Declaration represents much-needed global dialog on AI and quickly drew cautious approval from experts in the sector.

300 million

In March, a Goldman Sachs report warned that around 300 million workers could lose their jobs to AI in the near future. As the year has pressed on, workers have embraced AI tools but have also been forced to face the very real prospect of AI-linked job cuts in the coming years.

There have already been moves in this direction this year, with BT’s plans to slash 55,000 jobs by 2030 being driven in part by a desire to automate more of its workforce and IBM CEO Arvind Krishna having been criticized for stating that workers losing out to intelligent systems was inevitable (Krishna later went into damage control over his comments).

In late November, the UK Department for Education published research that stated skilled workers were most vulnerable to AI job cuts, particularly those in London and the South East of England.

Rory Bathgate
Features and Multimedia Editor

Rory Bathgate is Features and Multimedia Editor at ITPro, overseeing all in-depth content and case studies. He can also be found co-hosting the ITPro Podcast with Jane McCallion, swapping a keyboard for a microphone to discuss the latest learnings with thought leaders from across the tech sector.

In his free time, Rory enjoys photography, video editing, and good science fiction. After graduating from the University of Kent with a BA in English and American Literature, Rory undertook an MA in Eighteenth-Century Studies at King’s College London. He joined ITPro in 2022 as a graduate, following four years in student journalism. You can contact Rory at rory.bathgate@futurenet.com or on LinkedIn.