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AI defined 2023. Bullets and ballots will shape 2024

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How to sum up the most important news of the year past? The obvious answer in 2023 is to use Artificial Intelligence. In that spirit, I asked OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard – two of the most popular generative AI tools – to do the job for me.

Their responses show AI’s power, but also the ways it still falls short, in this case both in terms of Reuters editorial standards and when compared to human editors.

ChatGPT told me that “As an AI, I don’t have real-time access to current events or the internet to know the specific events of 2023” before offering me “a hypothetical scenario based on current trends and topics.” Its rosy scenario included the global community agreeing “to a radical and comprehensive set of measures to reduce carbon emissions significantly by 2030”, scientists successfully wrapping up final phase clinical trials of an unnamed cancer vaccine, and the United Nations brokering a deal to end decades of geopolitical tensions in an unspecified region of the world.

If only.

Bard was more helpful and accurate, offering me a summary of news from the Russia-Ukraine war (though it was slightly unclear on what year the war started), what happened to the global economy, and details of tech developments, including AI and gene editing. It missed the war between Hamas and Israel.

But even if AI cannot yet match a journalist, the technology’s emergence in 2023 promised (or threatened, depending on your viewpoint) a profound shift in the way humans operate, and boosted the stock prices of companies that embraced that promise. In 2024, expect more progress and more news on regulators scrambling to keep up.

Next year will also be defined by bullets and ballots.

In October, Hamas militants attacked Israel, killing around 1,200 civilians and taking about 240 more captive. The brutal surprise attack – the single most deadly day in Israel’s history – triggered a massive retaliatory operation. Israel has pounded Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza for weeks, ordered the movement of more than a million people within the tiny enclave, and killed, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, more than 14,000 Palestinians, including 5,000 children.

A days-long pause in late November to allow Hamas to return some Israeli hostages and Israel to return some Palestinian prisoners to Gaza, ended and the fighting looks likely to drag into 2024.

The conflict in Ukraine also shows no sign of slowing. Russian and Ukrainian forces continue to fight in Ukraine’s east and the south, but momentum on both sides has ground to a near halt. The key to any change in the stalemate lies as much in Washington and Brussels – and the West’s appetite for continued help for Ukraine – as it does in Moscow and Kyiv.

This was also the year China’s economic struggles worsened, even as Beijing and Washington attempted to mend relations between their two countries. In 2024, those efforts, and even the likelihood of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, will pivot on what happens in the US presidential elections. A second term for Donald Trump would throw everything up in the air again – including the future of US democracy.

The US election will be the single, most defining political event next year, both at home and abroad. But other major stories will emerge from voting booths around the globe.

More than 900 million eligible voters in India will determine the political fate of Prime Minister Narendra Modi next spring. Mexico may cast aside a tradition of machismo and elect Mexico City mayor Claudia Sheinbaum as its first female President. And a less competitive race is taking shape in Russia, where Vladimir Putin is seeking another six-year term in office, putting him in the realm of Joseph Stalin’s lengthy reign over the country.

You will notice our year-end stories look ahead to a range of critical questions for 2024. What’s next for abortion and reproductive rights in the United States? Is inflation around the world beaten? Will weight loss drugs reverse the obesity epidemic? And can Taylor Swift’s power get even bigger?

Like many newsrooms, Reuters is experimenting with how AI can help us package, produce and deliver our journalism. But that journalism will continue to come from our reporters on the ground around the world, covering the news that matters without fear or favour.

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