If you had invested £1,000 when Amazon’s initial public offering was released in 1997, you would be now sitting on a very cool £1.3 million. If you had got in on the ground floor with Apple way back in 1980 your stocks would have risen in value by 58,000%, while an investment with Netflix in 2002 would now be worth 35,000 % more.
All these organizations have to some extent revolutionized the way we live our lives, and many of the most valuable companies in the world are unsurprisingly technology companies. The big 5 organisations (Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft) are now collectively worth over $5 trillion dollars. There is little doubt that investing in future technology is something that could make a canny investor a lot of money – if they get their predictions right (remember, with big reward comes big risk!)
Here are some possible future technologies that may be the next things to change our lives.
There have already been huge developments in this sector, for example the advent of voice-controlled devices such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home which are turning homes into “smart” homes. They can perform thousands of tasks – streaming music, controlling your lighting and heating, giving a weather forecast, compiling and ordering groceries and even telling a joke!
AI will create huge global change in our societies and economies as new technologies are developed and the growth has already been vast; in 2017 the global market value of the sector was $700 billion but it is estimated to be worth around £3.9 trillion by 2022 (1).
Driverless cars, customer service “chatbots” and robots taking over many roles will utterly transform the world of work in the next few years. Many millions of jobs are likely to be replaced by AI; the commercial introduction of 3D printing is already revolutionizing manufacturing, producing parts on demand perfectly and more efficiently than the human hand. We have already seen programs capable of recognizing our images to the extent of distinguishing our emotions, and services such as Netflix and Amazon already give personalized recommendations of what to watch and buy. These are but the first steps towards robots with artificial intelligence capable of interacting with us – the only things that could hold the march of this technology back are the ethical and political objections of people themselves.
Essentially, this works like a vast shared digital ledger that confirms and records transaction information, accessible virtually in real-time and enabling everyone involved in a transaction to know exactly what has taken place without the need of intermediaries or reconciliation of data. It has been around since the early 1990s but rose to prominence with the rise of Bitcoin as a peer to peer electronic cash system. Cryptocurrencies themselves may not reach similar peaks as investors benefited from in the 2010s (but are still seen by many experts as a good long-term investment), but crucially the underlying technology is now being used to transform other business models and has become a hot trend in the financial markets. Industries are beginning to turn to blockchain to reduce costs of work processes, ensure data transparency and improve security, all vital in an increasingly digital world. Venture capital companies are already investing in blockchain startups who are developing applications and systems for these purposes. Finance and banking, logistics, government, healthcare and education are just some examples of prime sectors for blockchain technology to be adopted. FX Trading can introduce you to the vast number of opportunities in forex trading and crypto trading and help you find online brokers and trading tools. Just remember this kind of trading is INCREDIBLY risky and you should seek professional expert advice before parting with any money.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
VR/AR tech utilizes sensory devices to immerse the user in a simulated environment or to modify their actual environment. The technology really came into the public mind with the launch of the Oculus Rift headset in 2016 and is widely predicted to become to the next stage in the development of computing and again with possible profound impacts on the way we live our lives – this will gradually merge the digital world with the real world and perhaps alter our very perception on life. Eventually the need for a screen to interact with the digital world could disappear altogether, and we will watch movies, make video phone calls, compose and send messages and buy products all without the use of a TV, computer or smart phone. It will likely be via a headset/glasses at first but who knows where it will develop to – perhaps one day information will be processed directly into our minds. The sector it is still in its infancy but the future applications of the technology could be huge; from movies or TV programmes in which the watcher can play an active part, to the world of work – virtual reality training, architecture and construction, education, health – the list is endless.
New Alternative Energies
With the rapid depletion of fossil fuels and global demand for energy constantly increasing, the importance of renewable sources of energy is becoming ever more evident. Of course, everyone is aware of the possible implications of climate change, and what may seem to be impossible right now is being made quickly possible for technological advancements, which are serving to make the costs of alternative energy fall. Experts believe that renewable energy companies will see huge growth in the coming years, and national governments are beginning to invest heavily in future technologies. Here in the UK, a 2020 report by renewable energy investment company Thrive Renewables (2) stated the removal of local planning barriers in onshore renewables sector (solar, wind, hydropower) could unlock £28.9 billion in the UK economy by 2035. They suggest there is an overall potential investment opportunity of £66.5 billion if the Government take the measures required. Moreover, onshore renewables are quicker and cheaper to build than both nuclear fission and gas-fired power stations. Certainly, it is clear there will be plenty of excellent opportunities for investors in the Alternative Energy sector.
We will all need to embrace the enormous changes coming from technological advancement, and investment in tech companies could well reap financial rewards.