View all Blog

WGSN’s 3 key takeaways from Web Summit 2023

web summit 2023
Web Summit
Nov 23, 2023 By WGSN Insider
Consumer Tech

WGSN’s Insight team was on the ground in Lisbon, Portugal, at the 2023 Web Summit conference, one of the leading technology conferences in the world, which brings together creatives, leaders and entrepreneurs and provides fertile ground for the exchange of thoughts and ideas.

We highlight the key takeaways from the event, including the implications of an AI world, the tension between Big Tech, government and consumer trust, and the evolution of the creator economy, examining what all of this means for the future.

Web Summit 2023

The synthetic creator economy 

WGSN has been closely tracking the shift from the influencer economy to the creator economy for years and it's showing no signs of slowing as a big business opportunity (Goldman Sachs predicts the creator economy could be worth nearly $500bn by 2027). Talks at Web Summit centred on how AI is redefining the content creation process, with many creators already using these tools for improved efficiency and to aid creativity. In fact, one study revealed that 62% of creators and 68% of aspiring creators already use AI in their content creation process. 

"AI is shrinking the barrier between what you can imagine and what you can create," said Stevie Johnson, managing director of influencer marketing agency, Disrupt. This narrative aligns with WGSN forecasts predicting the rise of strategic imagination via synthetic media. AI is unlocking the power to dream up new possibilities previously unimaginable and it's completely reshaping the creator and entertainment industries.

Web Summit 2023

Johnson mentioned a $5m licensing agreement between Meta and the first wave of A-list celebrities of whom who they’ve created AI deepfake chatbots, including Kendall Jenner and Snoop Dogg, who have relinquished the rights to their images and voices. Johnson also shared concerning statistics; 57% of people worry about decreasing content authenticity with the rise of Generation AI and 58% express concerns about copyright issues. Notably, he touched on the threat of the prevalence of deepfake videos, revealing that 98% of them are pornographic, underscoring the ethical challenges and accessibility of this technology, which can create a 60-second porn video for just $9 in 25 minutes using a single clear facial image. 

As AI technology inevitably becomes more intelligent, these threats will be compounded shaping young generations' coming-of-age experiences and potentially becoming a real threat to democracy and brands alike.

Web Summit 2023

AI and the need for long-termism

Dan Gardner, CEO of Code and Theory, explored the need for businesses to stop treating AI as a means for short-term solutions. “There is an obsession over short-term business wins with AI,” he said, which has led to a dystopian mindset among business leaders. WGSN has previously highlighted how marketing departments, in particular, are leveraging generative AI to create content on command more efficiently and at a lower cost, from innovative imagery in campaigns to social media posts and even hyper-customised content that is tailored and targeted to user interests. However, business leaders need to move beyond short-term gratification with AI as a cost reducer, campaign gimmick and facilitator of content homogenisation in the market. 

Gardner called for a human focus on our AI integrations. “We need to get back into the mindset of thinking about human needs. This is not the time to solve AI, but how we can solve human needs with AI,” he said, calling for leaders to consider the knowledge gaps that exist between humans and AI. He noted how businesses must be agile and willing to change with the pace of technology. He called for leaders to adopt a design transformation mindset, which he noted as the practice of increasing a company’s readiness to navigate uncertainty, which can be achieved by asking oneself if a business is acting responsibly enough, fast enough, competing well enough and whether it’s creative enough.

Web Summit 2023

All-clusive tech

WGSN has recently been exploring the future of language as new tech tools emerge to democratise cross-cultural communication. This was the focus at one standout session on the main stage titled AI Wearables: The Future of Multilingual Communication. The audience was able to witness the future of language interaction in real time with Vasco Pedro from Unbabel, an AI company offering seamless multilingual translation services. Pedro unveiled a new project at Web Summit dubbed Unbabel Halo, an AI wearable device built with predictive AI and bio sensors to help consumers communicate via their thoughts. He demonstrated how the device works in real time, taking questions from the audience and then answering in a WhatsApp message displayed on the big screen, without ever typing or speaking. 

The company plans to develop the device for ALS and other physically disabled patients to be able to speak to their loved ones after they’ve lost their speech and movement faculties. This coincides with our coverage of digital accessibility and how technology is helping to facilitate a more equitable future for language accessibility for the hard of hearing community. According to research from Cadbury, 50% of the deaf community experience FOMO at least once daily, but brands have a part to play in making marketing more inclusive, with AI being a further catalyst for accessibility into the future.

Web Summit 2023

WGSN’s week in review

Here’s a short video featuring Insight Youth Culture Strategist Liz Tan’s conference diary as she bounced between sessions.


For more insider info, check out our 2025 Creator Economy Forecast. Not a subscriber? Request a demo today.


Share article: