"Trend Korea," a trends forecasting book series published annually, has returned with 10 predictions for 2024 along with the subtitle "Dragon Eyes."
The term "Dragon Eyes" highlights the essential role humans play in using artificial intelligence technologies, explained Kim Ran-do, a professor of Seoul National University's consumer science department, during a press conference Thursday at the Press Center in central Seoul. The term derives from an old Chinese saying that stresses the importance of completing the final step of any task.
When an accomplished painter painted dragons without eyeballs, he was questioned why. The painter replied that when the eyes were completed, the dragons would soar into the heavens. When he painted the eyes on one of the dragons, it flew away, while the dragons without eyeballs remained as paintings on the wall.
Referring to the emergence of various artificial intelligence technologies such as ChatGPT, "Trend Korea 2024" argues that AI still needs human direction to achieve its full potential. To a greater extent, Kim deemed the need for human-AI collaboration inevitable.
With major players like Microsoft making AI technologies more accessible to the public, Kim predicted widespread integration of AI into society, while stressing the need to focus on humans.
"Humans must understand their own positions and capabilities as well as the AI mechanism in order to create synergy. It can be cultivated through an in-depth understanding of history and philosophy," Kim said.
Under a chapter titled "Don't Waste a Single Second," Kim predicts time gaining greater value in 2024. "The traditional possessive economy is giving way to an experiential economy where time holds more value than money," he wrote.
Kim attributed this shift largely to COVID-19, contending that people started to recognize the value of time more after working flexible shifts during the pandemic period.
According to Kim, this shift will also impact the world of business. Companies should formulate strategies to compete for consumers' time rather than their money, he suggested. "The ability to capture and retain consumer attention will become a critical success factor," Kim said.
Kim continued that punctuality will be key on the agenda for businesses in the next year, where companies will have to ensure time precision for delivery services, down to the minute. Kim explained that only those companies with up-to-the-minute services -- such as local delivery service Baemin and taxi-hailing service Kakao T -- would manage to enhance customer satisfaction.
Kim warned that people today are too obsessed with perfection, referring to the "hexagonal human." Kim said people are blindly pursuing perfection across every aspect of life, while confining themselves to a spider graph comprised of various components such as education, appearance, housing and even family background.
Kim worried that such blind pursuit of perfection could lead to social collapse. Kim explained how people who constantly compare themselves with others, through social media platforms like Instagram, will contribute to a pervasive mood of discouragement in society.
"Those comparisons will continuously increase people's expectations of their life standards, which is one of the leading factors in the falling marriage rate," Kim said.
Other predictions for the next year include bandwagon consumption and the care-service economy.
"Trend Korea 2024" will also be available in English.