AI fever is gripping Davos and pushing cryptocurrencies aside as the new cool kid on the block

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DAVOS, SWITZERLAND – Over the past few years at the World Economic Forum, cryptocurrency companies have dominated the main sector in Davos, hawking their wares.

But in 2024, artificial intelligence will take over. Some of the world’s largest companies are promoting their AI products and services with one ad: “The future is AI.”

This shift highlights the rapid rise in AI investment and interest in the past year, sparked by the explosion in popularity of ChatGPT, an AI-based chatbot developed by OpenAI and launched at the end of 2022.

Global technology companies are vying to be leaders in artificial intelligence, and are likely hoping their big statements at Davos Promenade will demonstrate their prowess in the field.

Companies from American Semiconductor Corporation Intel Corporation to Sales force They placed AI logos on the properties they seized. Then there was AI House, an event venue hosted by companies including Swiss telecoms company Swisscom.

AI has dominated the Promenade market much more than cryptocurrency companies, reversing the trend of the past few years.

The House of Artificial Intelligence was one of the biggest displays on Davos Promenade. (Arjun Kharpal/CNBC)

For example, at the World Economic Forum in January 2022, even after cryptocurrency prices collapsed, companies were promoting “Bitcoin Pizza Day” and so-called non-fungible tokens. In January 2023, e.g The cryptic winter has begunCompanies backed away from pouring money into Davos, but there was something There is still a heavy presence from industryincluding A Mysterious orange bitcoin car.

AI dominance makes sense.

PitchBook’s Emerging Tech Index, which tracks angel, seed, and early-stage investments in the world’s 15 most successful venture companies, found that AI and machine learning startups gained significantly more investment in the third quarter. The booming technology generated about $600 million over the three months, compared to just over $100 million for Web3 and other decentralized finance companies.

Nvidiawhich was the poster child for artificial intelligence in public markets, It saw its shares rise 239% in 2023. The AI ​​hype shows little signs of dying down.

The cryptocurrency industry, for its part, appears to be okay with the turnaround in Davos.

Dante Disparte, Chief Strategy Officer at Circle, issuer of the popular US dollar-pegged stablecoin American dollar, was a regular participant in Davos. Over the past eight years, Desparte told CNBC, the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry has had to “tell the story of the technology, rather than the story of the results.”

“Today, there are very few crypto houses along the promenade. They are all AI houses, which is good,” said Disparte. “This indicates that this is becoming an essential technology.”

According to Desparte, who has worked extensively with lawmakers on Capitol Hill to pass legislation related to stablecoins, the remaining companies and players will converge on traditional banking, financial services and payments.

“It’s no different than the way the Internet had to go through the dot-com bubble to hand the development of the Internet into more solid, trustworthy and secure hands,” Desparte said.

“There’s a new tech kid on the block, which means I’m going to be an old player. I don’t have to explain technology as much, which is encouraging,” he added.

This does not mean that there are no cryptocurrency companies. The department had a large presence on the Corniche. A Swiss non-profit industry body called the Global Blockchain Business Council also had event space. CasperLabs, which has been around for the past few years, has also had a large footprint. But overall, it has definitely been quieter even though the cryptocurrency industry and investors seem to have had a better year in 2023 compared to 2022. Bitcoin It rose by more than 150% in 2023.

There is a narrative in the industry that cryptocurrency companies no longer need to prove themselves. The US Securities and Exchange Commission’s approval of a bitcoin exchange-traded fund last week is viewed by some as a moment that sealed cryptocurrencies’ place as a legitimate asset class.

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